Italian football claimed another victim. Lazio fan Gabriele Sandri was killed by a policeman, accidentaly they say. Fans, regardless of the club they support,did not buy this and reactions, many of them excessive, started coming like an avalanche. More then just their inappropriateness per se, they also obscured the real issue.
In the first hours after the incident, the Italian media gave bombastic headlines about a big fight between Lazio and Juventus fans that claimed a life. Throughout the afternoon rumours were spread alla over TV stations that laziali along with their interisti friends, were headed towards Parma to square it off with Juve fans who followed their club there. As time went by, the truth was inevitably creeping out. As it turned out, no more then 10 people participated in the so-called mega-fight, which was not really a fight at all but a mere trade of insults and pushing around in which poor Sandri hasn't even participated but rather slept in his car.
And now everyone is scandalised with fans' behaviour! Yeah right! What about the cop who shot at live targets in order to control a simple fight? And the media who gave unsubstantiated rumours and outright false reports? Anybody gonna mention them? Will any of them answer for their actions?
It was clear why they started out with the big fight story. It wasn't just to cover-up for the police. They wanted to use the incident to demonize and posibbly liquidate ultras groups which have been a thorn in the side of the authorities for years. I do not believe for a moment that the ultras are angels, far from it, but it is quite clear that in order to satisfy some economic and political interest the tendency is to "sterilize" the footballing public and make more "theater-like".
The reaction of Italian official organs, state and sporting, is a picture of malice, cynicism and hypocricy. Serie B and C were halted next weekend and away fans were banned. The minister of sport even wanted to halt the whole championship. A cop shoots, kills an innocent man, the media make false reports, all hell breaks loose as a result and the ones who are paying the price are the fans. E viva la logica!
Don't let the pictures from the riots in Bergamo and Rome fool you, the responsibility of this lies entirely on the shoulders of the Italian authorities and media and the public by inquiring about their actions throughout this sordid affair must not let them get away with this.