The Morning AfterBy: Martha | November 12th, 2007
*This post is being updated; scroll down for the latest*
I’m exhausted just from thinking about what happened yesterday, and am torn between not wanting to talk about anything else and desperately wanting a return to normalcy, so I can talk about Adriano’s desperate desire to play for Mr. Burns at Manchester City.
But for better or for worse, as we saw yesterday, football does go on, so my plan is a roundup of new developments this morning then an attempt to get back to normal, if possible. Needless to say, I’ll keep obsessively refreshing the Italian news sites, and will update with any decisions/useless blanket actions the moment they go down. Sound good?
•Things were peaceful overnight, and apart from a lot of smashed windows at the CONI offices, damage to police stations and vehicles, a handful of arrest and a small number of injuries of varying severity (several policemen were struck by thrown rocks), the physical result of the riots in Rome are minimal. As people mentioned in the comments last night, it’s important that we recognize that the rioters — their number variously reported as between 200 and 1000, depending on what you read, but probably closer to the former — are thugs, pure and simple. Football may have been their excuse, but it had nothing to do with what they were doing; these were people out looking for trouble, and an excuse to have a pop at the police.
•Corriere della Sera managed to score an interview with the policeman whose shot killed Gabriele Sandri; he’s understandably devastated, and talked to the paper about the two shots he fired, and why he had his gun out. The first shot, he says, went into the air, and protocol dictates he should have holstered his gun after that. He didn’t, and the gun went off again while he was running, this time shooting in the direction of the crowd of people who either were or had been fighting. At the moment it’s thought the second shot was the one that killed Sandri; there’s a diagram here — based, I believe, on the police side of the story — of where he was in relation to the shooter; not surprisingly, it supports the policeman’s story that he was probably too far away to have aimed at the victim. Sandri’s family, meanwhile, are calling Gabriele’s death a murder, and there is by no means agreement over how he was killed, or what the situation was at the rest stop where the incident occurred. There is reportedly CCTV footage of what happened, but we’ll hear about that only though official mouthpieces; there will surely be those who say we’ll never find out exactly what happened, or who was at fault.
•Stories are coming to the surface in Italy that both FIGC chair Giancarlo Abete and CONI wanted to suspend all matches yesterday, but were overruled by national police chief Antonio Manganelli. Manganelli’s logic was twofold: First, he was concerned about what might happen if matches were canceled and fans were unleashed into the streets en masse; second, he thought suspending the matches would be both an acknowledgment of police guilt and an inherent declaration that Sandri’s death was football-related (ala that of Filippo Raciti), both things he desperately wanted to avoid. In fact, it’s suggested that the Lazio match was suspended not out of respect, but rather because several players already knew what had happened, and it would be difficult to persuade them to play because of their connections to Sandri. Maganelli, obviously, overruled the footballing authorities and ordered that the matches go ahead; the resulting events make it clear just how faulty his logic was. [Thanks to Spangly Princess, whose coverage of Sandri's death and subsequent events everyone should read, for the link to the story.]
•Atalanta have announced they will prosecute those responsible for the horrors in the Curva yesterday. Hopefully this isn’t just window-dressing until things blow over, and they actually will take action: Breaking the hold the Ultras have over calcio is going to take a whole lot more than just one-time legal action, but it would certainly be a welcome sign of seriousness about the issue.
•FIGC aren’t meeting until later today, but it’s expected by many that they will ban travel to away matches, something that’s less a solution to anything that happened yesterday than it is a way to cover up the fact that the authorities are completely incapable of dealing with the scope of the problem on their hands. The away fans didn’t make yesterday happen, but if they’re not traveling and not at matches, it’s one less thing for football and police to try to handle effectively.
•In a meeting today with the heads of CONI and FIGC, Genoa President Enrico Preziosi proposed a month-long stoppage of Serie A. He believes drastic action is required to “show the world of football its true nature,” and to get people to admit that “something isn’t working,” and isn’t against a stoppage as long as two or three months, if that’s what it will take to make people realize that it’s time for a change. (Added 1040am EST)
•The four people arrested last night in Rome will be prosecuted under terrorism laws, the first time the laws have been applied to this sort of offense. I know nothing about Italian law and can’t begin to interpret the significance of this, but apparently the decision was made based on specific actions the four are accused of taking during the riots. (Added 1050 EST)
•Eyewitness reports and the ongoing police investigation are leading to questions about the shooter’s (Luigi Spaccatorella) claim that his second shot was fired accidentally. Eyewitnesses claim they saw him hold the gun with two hands when it discharged for the second time, and even the police are now admitting that he may have intentionally been firing at the tire of the car in which Sandri was sitting, presumably because he thought a robbery had taken place and was trying to stop the perpetrators from getting away. As a result of these new developments, Arezzo police authorities are saying that, while Spaccatorella is set to face manslaughter charges, depending on the results of their investigation, the charge may eventually rise to one of murder. (Added 1120am EST)
•The National Observatory on Sports Events (AKA l’Osservatorio) has released a statement in response to yesterday’s events. Spangly Princess has generously translated the document, which mandates the following: 1)All grounds with a capacity over 7500 must have trained stewards in place by March or risk playing behind closed doors; 2)local police authorities have the right to postpone or suspend matches in the interest of public safety if any violent incidents take place, either inside or outside the ground; 3)Mass travel of “violent” fans is prohibited until the planned system of fan’s ID cards is put in place; this will be enforced on a case-by-case basis, through means such as a ban on group ticket sales or the closing of the away Curva. (Added 1230pm; clarified at 340pm EST)
•Rumors suggest that matches across the peninsula will be suspended next weekend, a measure which obviously will not affect Serie A, since the league is on a break for the upcoming internationals. (Added 125pm EST)
•The first arrest has been made ahead of Atalanta’s planned prosecution of those involved in the disorder that lead to the abandonment of their match against Milan yesterday: A 33-year-old resident of Bergamo has been taken into custody. (Added 125pm EST)
•It’s been confirmed that this weekend’s rounds of Serie B and C matches have been suspended. (Added 135pm EST)
•Palermo president Maurizo Zamparini has issues his usual, very un-politically correct statement, warning that any government that limits the movements of its citizens (in this case, the banning of away fans) invites observers to “talk about democracy but regime.” [Audio of his extensive press conference is here; thanks to PalermoSteven for the link.] (Added 155pm EST)
•The suspension of Serie B and C matches seems to be the extent of FIGC action, at this point; the possibility of a travel ban still exists but it has not been imposed. They also have formally requested of UEFA that the Azzurri be allowed to wear back armbands during the Scotland match. As of today, the intention is to resume Serie A matches on November 25, according to schedule. (Added 320pm EST)
•There have now been eight people arrested in Bergamo for their roles in the events that lead to the abandonment of the Atlanta-Milan match; police are reportedly using TV footage to identify offenders. (Added 330pm EST)