On Saturday afternoon, at Red Star Belgrade’s Rajko Mitić stadium, something unusual happened, but one that some had been guessing for a week. The ultras of the local team displayed two red and yellow banners placed upside down. One of them had the word Fedayn written on it, the name of one of the radical groups in Rome. The fabrics had been stolen the previous week in Mancini Square in the Italian capital, 1,300 kilometers away, after a violent paramilitary action. The Red Star ultras waved it for a few minutes on its curve and then set it on fire. “You have chosen the wrong friends”, read another banner, this time from the Serbs, referring to the twinning of Fedayn Roma with the Bad Blue Boys of Dinamo Zagreb. If the reason for that challenge was not clear enough, it was only necessary to rewind a week and focus on curve B of the Diego Armando Maradona stadium during the match that the locals played against the Cremonese, where a Serbian flag was waving.
Italy has shown in recent weeks that it is still far behind in the fight against the ultras in football. The escalation of the war between the fans of Naples and Roma is the most obvious proof. Both stands had maintained a great friendship for decades that crystallized twice a year through the sun derbynamed after being the first two teams from the central-southern part of Italy that had been admitted to the Superior Division Directorate (equivalent to the current Serie A). It was a declared brotherhood. And the concord, in which the ultras of Lazio were not, lasted several decades. But everything went wrong on October 25, 1987.
That afternoon, at the Olímpico in Rome, Francini broke the score at 1-1 and placed the Derbi del Sol on the side of the Neapolitans, who had just won their first scudetto the previous season. Just at that moment, Salvatore Bagni, went towards the curve of Roma and crossed his sleeves that caused a creak in the idyllic relationship between the two hobbies and gave rise to several chapters of confrontations in the following years.
Everything definitely went to hell when in 2014 the Italian Cup final was held at the Olympic Stadium in Rome between Napoli and Fiorentina. When the Neapolitan fans were marching towards the venue, a brawl broke out in which an ultra-Roman supporter, Daniele De Santis, shot and killed the Neapolitan Ciro Esposito. The murderer was sentenced to 16 years in prison and the hobbies broke up forever. “Any word will be in vain, if we have the opportunity there will be no mercy,” promised the Azzurri. And so it has been.
The two curves have experienced moments of maximum tension since then. The penultimate, just before the incident with the Red Star ultras, occurred in the middle of the highway on January 8. Both hobbies crossed paths on the A1, near Arezzo (Tuscany). The Azzurri were on their way to Genoa (for the Sampdoria match) while the Giallorossi traveled to attend the Milan match at the San Siro. It is not clear how, but they ended up meeting in a service area that, for more conflict, is known as “Badia al Pino”, where in 2007 the fan was murdered laziale Gabriele Sandri on behalf of the policeman Luigi Spaccarotella during a similar confrontation between tifosi biancocelesti and from Juventus. The pitched battle this time brought together some 300 hooligans, mostly Neapolitans, who would have waited for the Romanists.
The fight, in the middle of the highway, turned into a war with flares, firecrackers and bladed weapons. There were dozens of injuries and caused traffic to be cut off in both directions of the road. But the security forces have become even more alarmed by the incident of the theft of the Fedayyn flag. What happened in Mancini Square was classified as a paramilitary action and now opens a new horizon in the wars of the ultras. In fact, most of the radical groups in Italy, based on their particular code of what is admissible, have stood out and have condemned what happened. Except those of Lazio.
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