Women’s football team hit by mafia-style threats

Giovanni Malagò, the president of Italy’s National Olympic Committee (Coni), has called for an Italian women’s football team to re-form after it was disbanded following a series of mafia-style threats.

Women’s football team hit by mafia-style threats
The women's team was disbanded following a series of mafia-style threats. Photo: Sporting Locri/Facebook

Sporting Locri, located in Reggio Calabria, home to the notorious ‘Ndrangheta mafia group, was among Italy’s top five-a-side women’s teams.

But the club’s president, Ferdinando Armeni, disbanded the side amid mafia-style intimidation, which included a threat against his three-year old daughter, Corriere dello Sport reported.

The intimidation got underway earlier this month when a note was left on his car, reading: “It’s time to close to Sporting Locri. Leave!”

The same message was also received by Giovanni Primerano, the club’s vice president. Both men reported the incidents to the police at the time.

When that message was ignored, the tyres on Armeni's car were slashed and another note was placed on the dashboard, reading: “Maybe we haven't been clear. Sporting Locri must close”.

Armeni also told TG1 that a note was left in the back of the car, where his daughter usually sits, asking: “Who usually sits here?”

The team, founded just five years ago, was due to host Lazio on January 10th.

“Locri must play,” Malagò said.

“The club’s managers, technicians and, above all, its athletes must not give in to these shameful acts, which are intolerable in a civilized country.”

Carlo Tavecchio, the president of the Italian Football Federation, said: “Italian football is united against violence and threats of those who do not want to play sport.”

The club’s website has also ceased to exist, with the message “Closed for dignity” posted on the home page. A notice on the team's Facebook page read “Game over”.

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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.