Roma chief calls on ultra fans to end protest

Roma president James Pallotta called for the full backing of disgruntled fans during a lively social media exchange on Thursday amid an ongoing strike by hardline supporters he claims is "hurting" Roma's performances.

Roma chief calls on ultra fans to end protest
Roma President James Pallotta. Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP

For the third year in succession Roma are hoping to challenge for the Serie A 'scudetto', the league title they last won in 2001.

But a large section of the club's hardline fans, who traditionally occupy the more colourful and lively 'Curva Sud' end of the Olimpico, have gone on strike to protest police restrictions in and around the stadium.

Changes to security measures, including a crackdown on what fans can carry into the stadium, have prompted disgruntled fans to target Pallotta.

Pallotta and Roma are working towards creating a new stadium for the Serie A giants complete with expansive leisure and commercial facilities.

But in a social media exchange with fans on Thursday, the American called for fans to respect the security measures in place and return to the stadium to get behind Roma's title push.

“We don't own this stadium and we don't make any decisions on security and safety at the Stadio Olimpico. That being said we have been having discussions since the changes were made with the police to find a solution,” said Pallotta.

“The police have asked for stairs and gates to be free, no flares and no bombs. The police are fine with chants and flags.

“It's frustrating that our fans think we don't have a view and haven't been working behind the scenes to rectify this situation.

“I am frustrated though that while we try and find a solution, the team is being hurt by the decreased support at the stadium.

“I want to stress that we are working hard behind the scenes and don't think it's appropriate to discuss all solutions publicly.”

Fan violence in Rome, and within the Stadio Olimpico, is nothing new.

Fans regularly shout racial abuse from the stands and on some occasions openly showed their support to former Roma ultra, Daniele De Santis, who was convicted of shooting Napoli fan Ciro Esposito before the 2014 Coppa Italia final between Napoli and Fiorentina.

They also branded banners at the stadium attacking Esposito's mother for writing a book about her son.

Last season, riots in Rome between local fans and ultras from the visiting Dutch team Feyenoord led to a number of the city's monuments being vandalised, putting city authorities further on edge.

Last month dozens of Roma fans, many known for violent tendencies, were issued fines of up to €167 after they had switched places with other

Curva Sud supporters during Roma's 2-1 win over Juventus on August 30th.

Pallotta fielded a wide range of questions, ranging from the club's plans for icon Francesco Totti to whether he would be interested in replacing the disgraced Mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, who resigned last week over an expenses scandal.

But when faced with one fan who described himself as “one of those fucking idiots” from the Curva Sud that Pallotta has criticized, the American businessman responded in equal measure.

“It is very nice to finally meet one of the less than 10 fucking idiots I called out a few months ago that I felt were harming the vast majority of our fans,” said Pallotta.

“Any time you want to write and have further discussions… as long as you promise you will listen to me too.

“I have had plenty of these messages, warmest regards, the fucking President!”

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Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.