Friday, February 03, 2006

Forza Roma!

This is a shot from the soccer match I attended the other night. The competition pitted Roma against the revered Juventus squad from the north of Italy, I believe they are actually from Turino, an appropriate event given my itinerary. We paid €25 each for tickets so that we could sit with Roma fans, all the “curva sud” (southern curve of the stadium) tickets were taken. “Curva sud” is where true Roman fans sit.

The other option for cheap seats were to sit with the Lazio fans, Lazio is the other Roman soccer team. Apart from the fact that we wanted to sit and cheer with the Roma fans, Malva alerted me to the fact that we should not sit with the Lazio fans because they are hooligans and fascist supporters. In fact, one of the developing news stories here in Italy relates to the fact that Roma fans (not Lazio fans) unfurled Nazi banners at recent soccer match at the Estadio Olimpico. Fascism in Italy is alive and thriving. Healthy enough that it was tolerated to the point that the match was not stopped to remove the banners, for fear of inciting violence from unruly and belligerent fans.

The display was a provocative gesture aimed at the Livorno squad, popularly regarded as a bunch of leftists for their open displays of the hammer and sickle, and established communist inclinations. “Futbol” here is much more than just a means of popular entertainment it seems, it is a forum for political organizing. In fact “Forza Roma!,” the slogan of the Roman football team, was borrowed by the campaign of increasingly discomforting Silvio Berslusconi (Italian Prime Minister, who by the way pledges not to have sex until the general election on April 9). Berlusconi’s slogan was “Forza Italia,” and incidentally (not coincidentally) he carries heavy support amongst the fascists for promising increased unemployment welfare benefits. Appropriate.

Given the context of my travels, this only deepens my concerns with regard to the severity and profundity of the racism that stills thrives in modern society. Don’t ignore it. Congress just voted today to extend the Patriot Act. This is just one way in which the United States keeps up the tradition of racial profiling, and violates our civil liberties. It’s a slippery slope.

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