The World Cup is here – time for a cultural exchange

The World Cup is very nearly upon us, and if it isn’t one of the great opportunities for cultural exchange then I don’t know what is, so why not learn to coat off the officials, FIFA and above all, other nations with a string of obscenities a Livorno docker would be proud of? As someone who has spent two seasons in the Curva Sud I feel I am qualified to help any of you who end up outside an ice cream van on Wandsworth Common, or God forbid, watching Italy play in an Epsom church hall, dish out a volley of verbal abuse in Roman-style Italian. After all, there’s nothing more satisfying than swearing well in another language, so, like an oily Mediterranean footballer, let’s dive in!

The first thing to remember is, like in any other conservative society freezing in the shadow of Uncle Benny’s Death Star Cult, blasphemy is the most offensive form of swearing, and both big and clever. Therefore, you want to do lots of it, especially if surrounded by southerners, who will be so outraged they might set their donkeys on you. Remember, you’re striking out against an oppressive organisation that has fucked their whole culture up, whether they know it or not, so be sure to remind them that you’re basically trying to save them from their medieval savagery.

So, alongside your classic Italian insults/epithets, like:

  • Stronzo – twat
  • vaffanculo – fuck off, or go fuck yourself
  • vattene – go away, get lost, piss off, fuck off
  • Bastardo – work it out for yourself
  • Buffone – Buffoon
  • Pezzo di merda – Piece of shit

Mortacci tua (Roman only) – a curse on your dead ancestors, basically, but normally used like you would ‘fuck off’, or ‘fuck (or even ‘bollocks to’, for the Brits and Irish)him/her/them/you’

We also have any combination of Dio (God), Madonna (The Virgin Mary) and Gesù (Jesus)with an animal, specifically ‘cane’ (dog) or the pig-based ‘porco’/’maiale’. Like the following:

  • Porco Dio
  • Porca Madonna
  • Dio Cane (very popular in the Veneto, pronounced Dio can’)
  • Gesù maiale
  • Dio merda
  • Mannaggia (damn) a Dio

Bear in mind that ‘maiale’ almost always comes after the religious figure, but don’t be afraid to mix it up; the more outrageous the slur on the Creator’s good name, the better – we don’t want anyone to forget just how much of a cunt he is now, do we? Some of the hits of the last year from me and my aggressively, almost viciously anti-religion friend include:

  • Dio pedofilo
  • Dio caccola (snot)
  • dio emorroide (hemorrhoid)
  • dio diarrea (diarrhea)
  • mannaggia ai sandali di cristo (damn Jesus’ sandals)
  • porco il vaticano
  • mannaggia a tutti i santi del calendario (damn all the saints in the calander)
  • viva il colosseo (in honour of the Romans’ heroic slaying of Christians, of course)
  • Dio pissing
  • Madonna double entry
  • Dio Canio (an anti-God, anti-Lazio double whammy pun right there for you chaps)
  • Gesù scat
  • Dio dildo

Yes, you can mix up Anglo porn words, as they’re very rarely translated; ‘squirting’ becomes ‘lo squiiirrting’, for instance. Now, some basic football terms:

  • Fuorigioco – offside
  • Calcio di punizione – free-kick
  • Rigore – penalty
  • Fallo – foul
  • Fallo di mano – handball
  • Arbitro – referee
  • Pallone – ball
  • Porta – the goal
  • Ocassione – goal scoring chance, which you don’t miss, you eat (mangiare, magnare in Roman)
  • Il Fair Play – fair play, but you’ll only ever hear this on highlights shows from a sniggering, confused TV host; this is Italy, after all

These are the only ones you’ll need, as you’ll spend most of your time appealing for or against various decisions/non decisions, waving your hands around comically. That’s when you’re not disparaging another country’s cuisine, or employing casual racist abuse, in any case.

Right, now you have the epithets, blasphemy and the limited football vocabulary you need. Now for some quick general Italian pointers:

Essere – to be

  • io sono – I am
  • tu sei – you’re
  • lui/lei – he/she is
  • noi siamo – we’re
  • voi siete – you (plural) are
  • loro sono – They’re

Avere – to have

  • io ho – I have
  • tu hai – you have/you’ve/you’ve got
  • lui/lei ha – he/she has
  • noi abbiamo – we have
  • voi avete – you (plural) have
  • loro hanno – they have
  • Un/uno/una – a
  • Il (Er in Roman)/i/lo/gli(je in Roman)/la le – the
  • Ma – but
  • Cazzo – dick, but usually used as we use fuck
  • Che cazzo – What the fuck
  • Dai (daje in Roman) – come on, used exactly as we do in English
  • Ma dai/daje – Come off it

Right, now you have the tools to be as offensive as you like in Italian, so strap on your oversized shades, ripped spangly jeans, tight pink t-shirt and shit gold trainers, and give it some welly! I’ll start you off , but don’t forget to insert as much blasphemy as you possibly can. Best entry gets one of them special under-the-chin gesture that no-one does outside of American mafia films.

(Note for Italian speakers/readers: bonus points for correct usage of Roman style usage of ‘stare’ – che cazzo stai a fa’, etc)

  • Arbitrooo! vaffanculo porco dio, sei un pezzo di merda! MORTACCI TUA! – I respectfully but wholeheartedly disagree with your decisions, referee. God is a cunt, incidentally, and I hope your ancestors rot in hell.
  • Se semo magnati troppi gol, cristo cagnaccio! – We really have missed rather a lot of chances, haven’t we Franco? By the way, I heard that Jesus is a mangy mutt.
  • Mannaggia a Dio, arbitro sei uno stronzo, stai arbitrando solo per loro! Gesù felching – For fuck’s sake, our player has hit the deck like a sack of shit despite not being touched; where’s our free-kick? Jesus must like sucking his own jizz out of Mary Magdeline’s arsehole, after all.

Get to it, people.

Azionariato Popolare AS Roma (Part 3)

OK, so here is another section of quotes that I’ve translated from Walter Campanile’s various interviews, this time from the press conference itself. Again it must be said that if any sense at all is lost from the translation then sorry, but there is no malicious intent in any linguistic fuck ups I make. And in any case, this is mainly for my benefit, so screw you. If you want to get hot off the press Italian news then learn the bloody language yourself. Below is a more up-to-date vision of what they feel the organisation should be about, with the original Italian here, for those of you who wouldn’t mind helping me out a bit. Meanwhile, if you’re at all interested in the structure of the APASR then why not take a look at the informative slides from the conference?

In what concrete way do you want to contribute to the growth of Roma and how does the current owner feel about that?
Mario Sacchi of Envet: The objective of the association is to assist and support the club. It’s evident that we will have to invest in the club, as a minority, obviously.

Is there a representative of the club here? Was one invited? Was the project presented to the club?
(There are a couple of sentences here that I literally cannot make head nor tail of: how depressing – Ed). In Europe we have clubs that were born as sporting clubs in which the member is a ‘socio’ (a member in the true sense of the word – Ed) and they developed on this model. At Hamburg for example, they didn’t need an azionariato, but the association ‘Friends of Hamburg’ nourishes the fan base, helps in the life of the club and of the supporters, and it also brings together thousands of members. Arsenal isn’t in the hands of their fans, but a group has a minority interest that doesn’t change the life of Arsenal, but it gives consent to the participation from and the involvement of those who care about the club. Roma is undoubtedly the object of this project.

Walter Campanile: We invited everyone here today, representatives of Roma and of the institutions. Their non presence doesn’t bother me because as yet we haven’t done anything. I’m sure that the work that we do will eventually be appreciated. Already, with regards to the number of members, we have overtaken Arsenal. This, we still repeat, is only a point of departure. We only want to participate and contribute to the management of the club. To let us help Roma, only that. Like Ranieri’s Roma, we also have to work off the pitch one step at a time. A note to the fans: all fans demand maximum effort from their players, so we mustn’t hold back when there is the opportunity to do something concrete.

How come there are no representatives from Roma here?
There are some (It’s clear who they are; they didn’t make themselves known at the time – Ed). We  have already opened the channels of dialogue and have invited everyone. I’m available to go anywhere to talk about our project.

Is Angelini one of your members? (Note: you might remember from my first post on this subject that pharmaceutical magnate Francesco  Angelini has been wildly rumoured to be interested in buying the club. This has caused many to think that the APASR was a front for various high-profile people to buy it from the Sensis, of whom more later)
Walter Campanile: No.

Will the money collected from members go to the club’s transfer market budget?
By law the money cannot go in the pockets of our associates. Just to be clear there will be specific body that will decide how the money is spent, and it will be possible to verify that through the balance sheet. If come the second year you become disillusioned you will be able to leave and not have to pay the money again. Transparency is guaranteed.

As we saw in the previous post, the group want to contribute financially to the club, with a minority say in what happens, and with the ain – in the short-term at least – of being little more than a community hub for fans. There appears to be a lot of talk about socios, but the comparison with those clubs is moot, as they are owned by their own communities and critically, they elect the people who run the club. This isn’t to say what happens at these clubs is perfect; Lord knows you only have to put in the occasional cursory glance at Sid Lowe’s Spanish football articles to know that the political machinations at Real Madrid in particular can get pretty ugly, frankly I’d be hoping that whatever does become of this project stays as far away from the ugliness that is Real Madrid as possible.

What happens to any money invested however, is another discussion altogether. Last week Roma’s owner Rosella Sensi had a meeting with Italian bank Unicredit regarding Italpetroli’s €400million plus debt, of which €300million is owed to them. Let’s just say that the meeting didn’t go well. ‘While Roma are flying on the pitch and dreaming of the Scudetto, off it the future of the club remains in doubt’, says Il Tempo (which appears to be a subsidiary of Il Sole 24 Ore, who basically invented the story about APASR that I mentioned above – we’ll skip over that for the time being). Why? well, Unicredit are 49% shareholders in Italpetroli (the company that indirectly controls Roma, remember) and are calling for the cancellation of the debt repayment plan and an  injunction on 13 Sensi assets, for various business-y reasons, including not communicating the company’s net asset value (regarding the 2008 balance sheet) in time. In 2008 the group lost €33million, and if 2009’s losses add up to more than €17million they will have to reduce capital, and as the Sensi’s don’t have any other solutions, Unicredit are adamant that assets must be sold.

The paper finishes: ‘The alternative is a recapitalisation, in which the bank would be ready to participate, but it would probably not gain a majority consensus from the shareholders. When thinking about the sale of assets thoughts shouldn’t go to Rome, the jewel in the group’s crown, made even more appetising in the last few months by on the pitch results that will probably take them into the Champions League next year. If the Sensis do have to give up the club, pharmaceutical magnate Francesco Angelini remains a credible potential buyer, and will be following the story with interest.’

No mention of our boys and girls in the Azionariato Popolare AS Roma yet. Maybe in time.

Azionariato Popolare AS Roma (Part 2)

Ok, so the other day I said that I would be chucking some quotes up here from the press conference and hopefully from a chat with the man himself, Walter Campanile. Well he was in Brussels yesterday chatting with EU big wigs so there was no point trying to get a lengthy discussion going, especially when I’m going to want him to repeat 90% of his answers at least twice. However, I have managed to dig up some quotes of his from back on 24 November last year, when he spoke with a Roma fans site about how the structure of the trust is going to work (NOTE: please bear in mind that any translation may not be 100% accurate, or may lose some of its meaning; contrary to popular belief meaning is not replicated exactly in every language, so just deal with it. The full Italian version is here for those of you who are able to read the language or just fuddy duddy killjoys who want accurate sourcing and that.):

A what point are you in the project?

I’m wary of looking too far ahead. We haven’t yet made Roma fans aware of what the azionariato popolare might be when it comes to pass.

What do you mean?

There are those who believe it to be some kind of subscription scheme, but if it was like this those who live in Saudi Arabia or Argentina would not have any reason to participate. When would they ever see Roma at the Olimpico? Instead, through our project whoever is able to contribute economically will strengthen our club, and from everywhere in the world.

Ok, but in what timescale?

The azionariato popolare doesn’t exist in Italy, in the sense that there is no legislative frame which inspires it. Anyway, in this early phase we have worked to understand if the model used in other countries could be applicable here in Italy.

We imagine so.

Exactly. In fact, that’s what we found and what will be explained later. We also occupied ourselves identify the legal entity that will represent fans based in Rome. (Ed’s note: this bit here is the bit I’m least sure about, linguistically speaking, if anyone wants to offer me a better translation please do.)

Are you not thinking of having a board of trustees (again)?

Of course, but not right away. Our scope to start with will be to get the fans to take an active part in the running of the azionariato, and having a representative in the board will be the next move.

What’s the next stage?

Between December and January we will look to have 80 people from the world of AS Roma involved with us. It will be them, in February, who will form a Constituent Assembly that will busy itself with writing the trust charter, on which the fundamental principles of the azionariato popolare romanista will be written. A month after that, if we are on schedule, we will be able to form the legal structure that will deal with whoever the owner of Roma is.

What characteristics will it have?

It will be democratic, absolutely transparent and not for profit, just as Supporters Direct, the organization that works for Uefa and who assists trusts with the legal support of Cleary Gottlieb, suggested to us.

Then, you said, the rendezvouz with whoever owns the club in March.

We still need to find an interlocutor who will open the door for us.

Even if it’s the Sensis?

The project is independent. It’s not important to us who the owner is.

But if it’s the Sensis you might end up delivering some money in a closed envelope a family who financially are in substantial trouble.

I understand where it might go. Ours isn’t a collective like that of Sistina in the 60s. The management of funds won’t be a fan, not of the presidente of the club.

So you’re saying that it would be fine for you whoever owns the club. Even Angelini?

Absolutely. I repeat: we are happy to support whoever is disposed to help make Roma great again.

This interview (despite being a couple of months out of date) is interesting to me on a philosophical level: to me, surely the point of organising fans together like this is so that you can have a large, potentially majority say in what goes on at the club, rather than sort of hang around and talk to the owner, who will tell you to piss off if they don’t like what you have to say. Obviously benefits regarding unity of the fans, organising social night, tickets for foreign fans and creating an all round community for supporters of the club are all great and I heartily endorse them. Obviously it’s early days yet so what form the relationship with the club takes is still up for grabs, but personally I’d like to see a big enough groundswell of support that would eventually put the ownership and the running of the club into the hands of an elected body.

At the press conference they made plenty of allusions to Barca and the Spanish socio model, but that works on the principle of ownership, of a democracy that has real power, or at least as much real power as those running a football club can ever have (This is Italy mind you, where Rome’s mayor, the fascist Giovanni Alemanno made explicit reference to the authorities not letting Lazio get relegated, so maybe I’m underestimating that a bit.). Without that true stake in the club where is it going, and where does the money go once in the hands of the club?

I’ve got a few things still needing translating, including a video interview of Walter talking to a journo after the press conference and some of the question and answer session that was held after the presentation. We also have the results of the Sensi family’s meeting with Unicredit, which was yesterday, so all in all anyone who might be reading will have a bumper amount of content coming you way over the next week or so. After that? Well, who knows readers, who knows.

There are people who take it for some kind of subscription scheme.

Azionariato Popolare AS Roma

*Wipes away cobwebs*

A lot has changed since the last time I bothered to write anything for this godawful repository for my deteriorating brain. I now write every day for a pittance about celebrity crap, music, sport and video games, as well as do a weekly shift translating for La Gazzetta Dello Sport, and various other proofreading jobs. It pays the rent and keeps me in pizzas, so I’m not complaining, but recently the creative urge has been creeping up my spine and tickling the back of my brain, asking me why I know the intimate details of Jordan and Peter Andre’s divorce, and her subsequent marriage to a cross-dressing cage fighter and why I have done precisely nothing with the reams of stuff I have on Lodigiani, the meeting about the Tessera del Tifoso I took eight hours out of a beautiful summer’s day for and Azionariato Popolare AS Roma, which is the first real attempt in Italy for a football club run by the fans, for the fans, and which my own girlfriend is an important part of. Every now and again I get a metaphorical poke with a stick via a blog comment which arrives in my inbox, goading me to do something worthwhile with my time, anything that might give reason to halt the rapid disappearance of justification for the title of journalist with which I deign myself. Well you fucking win, ok?

This is why today I attended the official press conference that Azionariato Popolare AS Roma held to announce its presence to the world (well the Italian press at least), their vision for a brighter day in Italian football. It must also be said that aside from my own thoroughly selfish reasons for being there, I hold the idea and the people behind it in extremely high regard, and if in the long term they manage to organise Roma fans into playing a role in the democratic running of their club it will be one of biggest achivements in the history mankind. I say this as a man who has seen how hard it is for Italians to organise a meeting place and be there on time, so don’t take that lightly.

So a bit of background then. The Sensi family is currently finacially crippling the football club through their siphoning off of club money to service the €300million debt of their Italpetroli, as evidenced by the preposterously large €20million Liverpool paid for the summer transfer of Alberto ‘sicknote’ Aquilani. Usually a football club would be laughing all the way to the bank with that sort of money, but instead the fee magically disappeared into a huge black chasm. Anyone who has read The Beautiful Game? by David Conn will probably already be familiar with the sort of thing I’m talking about. Anyone tomorrow Roma president Rosella Sensi, Italpetroli and bank Unicredit will be meeting to discuss repayments of a debt that is nothing to do with the club. Got that? With this in mind APASR has sprung up, offering a different way of running a club in a country where local magnates ruling private fiefdoms is the common model, pumping in unsustainable millions while hiring and firing managers seemingly on a whim. It’s rallying call is partly for this sort of nonsense to end, but also for more fundamental change. As it says on their website (which has also been translated into English for the benefit of Roma’s worldwide fanbase):

Barcelona’s motto is ‘more than a club’, which helps explain their culture, and in thier own way, greatness. Maybe the moment has arrived to think of constructing our own future together for a Grande Roma, which could be an example in Italy and Europe and that could become, like Barcelona, more than a club.

As much as I am loath to praise Barca for their pompous slogan, their is little doubt that the socio model is the best way for a football club to be run if you’re interested in it being a force for social good.

The idea has certainly gained some traction, if the press conference was anything to go by. In fact not only were various Roma blogs reporting live from the scene, but big national newspapers like Il Messagero and La Repubblica were there (and have already produced stories for their respective online audiences), giving the movement a potentially huge boost. Having met Walter Campanile, the main man behind the scheme, and watched him deal confidently with Italy’s assembled hacks, I have to say he’s a very confident, convincing presence, prodding and cajoling any doubters, laying out the arguments and the structure of everything in detail. If he were less morally upright he’d do a fine job of selling you hooky clothes down the market, or encouraging pensioners to part with their savings because they had the cowboys in their bathroom. Mostly though, you can tell that he and his colleagues know they are right, and that they’re not about to give in to those who say ‘this can’t be done in Italy’.

It was standing room only today, partly due to the radical idea APASR is selling to the public, but also because of a furore kicked up by the press earlier in the month, when respected Naples-based business daily Il Sole 24 Ore claimed that the organisation was a front for a group of Italian celebrities who wanted to take the club from the Sensis without presenting any evidence, a story that was repeated also in La Repubblica. There had also been rumours doing the rounds that they were a front for medicinal drugs magnate Franco Angelini, which while raising the profile of the movement, presented them in an appalling light. Thankfully both of those were quickly swept out of the way.

Ah God it’s late, and in my head this post is already turning into bad facsimile of a Hunter S. Thompson screed, while the text remains resolutely tangent free (up until now at least). How much needs to be said about a press conference when the most important thing about today is an idea, one that needs pressing home and support from the wider fan base? All we’re looking at is a collection of suits and scruffily dressed photgraphers relaying the same quotes, when I’ve got access to better, original material at my fingertips. I’d already know whether we are looking at a new model of ownership or merely a union of fans that have the ear of the owners, loud but mostly powerless? Now that Roma are second in the league and doing well in the Coppa Italia and the Europa League, do the fans care enough to embrace radical change? In essence, is Roma doing well now a bad thing for the club long term?

Tomorrow we (Why I am writing this as though anyone is reading is anyone’s guess) will hopefully have some unique quotes from representives, as well as wonderfully translated stuff from all over the Italian press.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

Often in an Roman block of flats, you’ll here the sound of the buzzer. Mostly this is mates calling up to be let into the building, or a postman, or maybe even a sparky or whoever alse is being employed by the condominio to do bits of maintenance work. Normally it’s not a problem letting people in, even if they’re just pressing any old number outside to gain access, and I’ve had stilted chats with many a gruff Roman plumber in my time. After all, this is the new and improved Liqiuidator, social and forthcoming in two languages.

Today I was scribbling away for a freelance contract I recently landed, when the buzzer went. I picked up the phone by the front door, and was asked whether I was one Signor Iommi, who happens to be our landlord. No, sez I, he doesn’t live here anymore, what’s this all about? Well, he explains, I’m the administrator of the condominio, and there are people in the building who owe us money for cleaning in the building, can I come in? I pressed the buzzer to let him in the main gate, and this shambling, bristly looking chap trundles up the stairs, walking in a ghoulish fashion, like his shoulders are carrying the rest of his body and his legs are their for show. Upon arrival the guy shows me a cleaning bill for €140 and asks me whether I can pay it now, as it’s been outstanding for a while. I explain in the best Italian I can manage that there’s no way I can pay that much money right now, and in any case it’s not my responsibilty to do so. Speak to Claudio, the landlord. No no no, he explains, I’ll come with you to the cash point. Obviously I’m not getting through to this very rude and presumptious man, so I called Spangles to give him what for more fluently, and to him our landlord’s phone number. In the meantime she’s called the landlord to have a go at him: if he’s coming round, why not fucking well tell us?

So the administrator sits at the kitchen table with the right grump, scowling at the hallway like a put out loan shark. I just want my money, he’s clearly thinking, what is it with these stupid foreigners? Eventually he gets through to the landlord, who explains to him that it’s his responsibilty to pay, so come and meet him at the restaurant later on tonight, and he’ll give him the cash on the spot. I’ll go with him to the cashpoint though, continues the man, and you can deduct it from his rent? I don’t mind waiting here while he goes down there. No, we’re not doing that come to the restaurant tonight. The guy hangs up the phone and tells me it’s all sorted, thanks for being patient, before dragging himself out of the flat. Now the pair of us were really pissed about this; it put me in an awkward situation, as well as amking me deal with his business. But he rung up about ten minutes later and apologised profously for it, so I figured it was just an honest mistake on his part.

Earlier this evening Claudio is in his usual spot, the Napolitano restaurant where his firm delivers cuts of meat to, having a coffee and a bite to eat while he waits for the administrator. Only he never shows. Now being half an hour or so late in Italy is practically being on time, usually, but this guy was desperate for the money right now, so where is he? He calls the administrator to ask where he is, after all he’s not usually so insistant for the cash. ‘What do you mean, “Where am I?”‘ he asks. ‘Well, you wanted money for the cleaning work a few hours ago, what’s going on?’

Halfway through Claudio’s phonecall to Spangles not half an hour ago the our collective penny dropped. The guy was con artist, he explained. The actual administrator had never done any cleaning work, and in any case Claudio always paid promptly and by direct debit. This fella (apart from doing a mean administrator impression) was going around flats with foreign names attached to the buzzer button outside in the hope that they’d not have any idea what was going on. Not only that, he was doing in the same building, over and over again, and others on this street. I for one really, really hope he comes back in here again.

Spettacolo Roma

I had the pleasure yesterday of watching one of the most enjoyable games of football I’ve seen in a long time, full of spirit and attacking verve, with two good sides going at each other hammer and tongs, tackle after tackle, and in other sexual innuendo-y ways.

Genoa came to the Olimpico in fourth place, having the sort of season that you would barely believe possible of a team promoted from Serie B only two years ago. This is mainly due to their Argentinian striker Diego Milito, who is engaging in a rather sickly love affair with the Genovese, and repaying that love in cold hard goals, 14 goals in 23 games, to be precise. Roma of course are on absolute fire and are looking better by the week, having won nine and drawn two in the 12 games since the derby win over Lazio. Baptista in particular really starting to look dangerous, and they’ve also managed to race up the table without one outstanding goal scorer. Instead they have three forwards who weigh in with both goals and assists; Vucinic is top scorer with eight goals, while Totti and The Beast only have six each, but there is a clutch of players throughout the team who’ve grabbed two or three, which shows you that the forwards are just as good at creating opportunities as scoring. We had two of the grandest old clubs in Italy, on great form, having a scrap for Champions League qualification, and let me tell you the match lived up to every expectation.

The match kicked off with the Inna yet to be completed, which meant the crowd finished it off without the PA blaring it out. It was pretty stirring stuff and got the game off to a cracking start, but Genoa had most of the ball for the first ten minutes or so. They were also a bunch of niggly little fucks, and kicked Totti as much as they thought they could get away with, but it didn’t matter, as Roma scored three glorious goals and plonked themselves one point behind Fiorentina, who took fourth place with a last minute win over Lazio. Check the goals out here:

The scoreline was really harsh on Genoa though, because they played just as much of the football and looked very threatening, especially after Taddei was sent off for tapping someone on the back, but in the end their fans made more of an impression than they did. Away fans had been banned for yesterday’s game, but that didn’t stop a small group of Genovese making their way six hours south and buying tickets in the Distinti Nord.


Which livened things up no end up over there. When Cicinho scored the first, the whole Nord started bouncing and chanting ‘if you don’t bounce you’re a Genovese’, which looked brilliant. It’s a shame the Sud didn’t join in, as that would have been extra ace. But still it was nice to see them starting songs for a change, and fair play those Genoa lads, they came and had a go etc etc, before being escorted into the previously vacant away end. It was less good to see the Sud dividing itself over Christian Panucci, who made the smart move of cussing Spalletti in public and offering himself up for transfer, only to find that the only clubs interested were Torino and Hull City. Now why anyone would want to play for Hull beyond me, especially after that walloping they took at Stamford Bridge on Sat….

Torino are a big club with good support, and a 35 year-old shouldn’t be complaining when Real Madrid don’t come knocking. Anyway, the Ultras Romani put up a banner which read ‘Panucci you are nothing but a disappointment’, while the Boys, Irish Clan, Ultras Roma and Giovinezza added on a cosigned banner ‘let’s move on’ or words to that effect, which is a pretty undramatic gesture for those who like to throw grenades in the concourse under the Sud.

None of that inter-fan chit chat took away from the quality of the game though, and I even allowed myself a little cheer when the last minute Fiorentina goal went in, despite the fact it put them in the crucial fourth Champion’s League spot. As half the crowd cheered and the other half groaned, I looked at the guy near the exit and said ‘Fuck it, it’s still Lazio.’

Oh the Humanity!

ROMA, 2 February 2009 (Translated from the Gazzetta and Il Giornale) :Floppy-haired Gallic pansy Phillipe Mexes was attacked eraly this morning by a group of Lazio fans outside the Gilda nightclub in the centre of town, a nototrious haunt for footballers and other Beautiful people (otherwise known as monied show off twats) with appalling hair and worse trainers. Like these two bell ends:


Or this pair of lookers:

You know these people have never even seen a pair of Gazelles before. Anyway, he was with his countryman and teammate Menez – presumably discussing existentialism and bemoaning how not being able to smoke and be in black and white anymore is really showing up their prentiousness for what it is – when the group were started hurling beastly words at them. They then had a little girly round of slapping and bum touching before the Carabinieri arrived to break them both up.

Luckily the situation was calmed quickly as the plod threatened to crack everyone’s skulls with sticks before claiming they were left wing agitators, and no-one ended up in hospital, although Mexes was treated at pronto soccorso (which I’m pretty sure is first aid) for a blow to face (probably by a belt buckle, the Gazzetta helpfully speculates). Neither player is making an official complaint, and Mexes will hopefully have a huge welt under his eye, making him look like a centre-back at long last.

A Message for Chelsea Football Club

Sack Phil Scolari at the first available opportunity. I don’t care whether it’s now or the end of the season, have him trampled under a carnival float in Rio for all I care, just make sure he disappears, right? I’m sure RA’s boys could sort out something if he gets pissy about compensation. Then, use the same meatheads to prise Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke away from West Ham, and bring them home.

End of message.

In Praise of Real Journalism and Shame on the BBC

Over the last few weeks, in the spirit of rediscovering what it is a journalist does when he wants to inhabit a world in which he doesn’t belong, I have been reading Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon. He’s more famous for the subsequent TV programmes that came from the book, like Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Wire, but the book itself deserves high praise on it’s own terms.

For those of you who don’t know about it, Simon spent a year in the Homicide department of his native Baltimore, following around the detectives in Luietenant Gary D’Addario’s unit. For reasons unknown they allowed him to take notes on absolutely everything, from the dark banter of the detectives and uniforms and cameraderie and tensions of the squad room to the details of investigations into truly horrific crimes. One, the discovery of a young girl, raped, murdered and left in an alley, becomes the spine of the book, the moral compass around which all other cases hover and rotate. East and West side corner boys drop each other with a regularity that to the detectives almost becomes monotonous, domestic arguments turn into dead bodies and hidden evidence, while the cops make racist, sexist and any other kind of offensive joke you can think of (the use of ‘toad’ for black criminals is particularly odious) while standing over dead bodies. And yet for that, there is a hint of something noble about both them and what they do, and it’s captured perfectly in Simon’s prose. It really is an oustanding piece of journalism, and I read it in the same manner he wrote it; disgusted with so much of the job, and the way that balance and impartiality have become the ultimate goal, at the expense of searching for the heart and truth of the matter. In case it was the way his paper, the Baltimore Sun, had cracked down on unions and become the property of ‘carpetbaggers’ from Philadelphia, me with the way the current Israel offensive in Gaza has been reported, culminating in the BBC’s appalling decision to block a DEC humanitarian aid appeal for those who haven’t been left dead by Israel’s bombing campaign. Simon himself says in the epilogue to the latest edition:

There are many journalists who believe that their craft must burden itself with a nodding, analytic tone, that they must report and write with feigned, practiced objectivity and the presumption of omniscient expertise. Many are consumed by the pursuit of scandal and human flaw, and believe it insufficient to look at human beings with a skeptical yet affectionate eye. There work is, of course, accurate and justifiable – and no closer to the actual truth of things than any other form of storytelling.

Without engaging and analysing the facts, and – yes – coming to judgements based on them, how is it possible to come to any sort of valid decision? Just because everyone has the right to an opinion, that doesn’t mean all opinions are not equally valid, and nor does it mean that because a decision or opinion might favour one side, that it’s biased, or prejudicial.

In any case, to say in this instance that the BBC was keeping itself impartial and apolitical is a fallacy; to ban an ad (and if you’ve seen it it’s obvious there is no anti-Israel message in there at all) is in itself a political act, and it says that the BBC is more concerned with who they might upset than with helping some aid getting to people Gaza, the vast majority of who are just normal people trying to live, not rocket-launcher wielding bandana-wearing Hamas soldiers. It’s an act that says these people don’t matter like the people of Darfur, or Tsunami victims, and it goes hand-in-hand withthe idea that  framing all Israeli aggression as ‘retaliation for terrorist acts’ and to implicitly support the one true democracy in the area no matter what its transgressions – be they deliberately targeting schools to take out militants or the denying Palestinians access to the local water supply – is neutral, and impartial. It stinks.

Anyway, the book. Buy it, borrow it, nick it off your local drug dealer before shooting him in the back, whatever. Just make sure you read it.

Thank Fuck for That

Last night was a strange experience. As has often been the case this season, a televised (and therefore easy to find on Sopcast) Chelsea match has clashed with a Roma home game. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem; I’d made my choice by coming out here and getting a season ticket, and goddamn it if I wasn’t going to get value for money. However this time I was very concerned about being dump out of the FA Cup by Southend, which would be the biggest cup shock we’ve had inflicted on us since Millwall knocked us out on penalties in 1995, if you discount the League/Fizzy Pop/Worthless Cup. And who doesn’t? The feeling of foreboding was palpable, and when I got a text message from my cousin saying:

‘One nil Southend. Pathetic’



all interest in the spectacle before me vanished like our ability to defend set pieces.

While the Sud kept up it’s constant flow of songs, urging the team to add to the rather good first half free kick from Julio Baptista, I was constantly checking my phone, trying to picture the scene at Roots Hall, mentally willing my team to score a goal – any goal – through some sort of Jedi mind trick. In truth it helped that Sampdoria had turned up for the game, which had initially been postponed due to a freak downpour back in October, with a similar attitude to the almost entirely absent Rome public. So while a half empty stadium was baiting Cassano and watching The Beast play like some sort of Drogba/Totti hybrid, My brain was throbbing ‘score a fucking goal you rudderless bunch of fucking cunts! This is all about ME and MY feelings of embarrassment!” in the general direction of Essex. Just before the second half started I got another text that simply said:

1-1 ‘Ballack



‘Thank fuck for that’, I replied, and at that point I zoned out completetly. ‘Oh wait,’ said my eyes. ‘Baptista has scored a wonder goal, dribbling round two players and curling a splendid finish in the far corner, before running to the Sud to take the applause.’

‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever,’ my brain replied. ‘I’m busy envisaging a game in another country whose outcome I am attempting to change with the power of aggressive thought-rants.’

All I could think about was my phone. I placed my hand in the pocket where I keep it so I could grab it the instant it vibrated. I tapped it, hoping that somehow that would dislodge messages that read ‘2-1 Lampard’, ‘3-1 Anelka’, ‘4-1, referee handballs it in before wheeling away to celebrate’, I squeezed it like a stress ball and there was a permanent cloud around my vision, like I was watching the game in flashback mode. Roma could have had another three more if they’d tried, but it was as if both teams had given me the green light to forget about them altogether. Samp just gave up, while Roma lazily passed the ball about, half-trying to add to their tally. Meanwhile…..

‘FUCKING VIBRATE YOU BASTARD PHONE!’ Just done’t let us lose on penalties again. PLEEEEEEEAAAAASSEE?

It was at this point that I had a moment of clarity: this is why football clubs have us over a barrell. Despite everything that is wrong with football, everything that is fundamentally wrong with my club – the greed, the ticket prices, the ruthless commercialism, the absolute disdain with which the club holds its supporters, the ruthless expansionism into other territories selling brands like a football club is a can of Coke – here I am, in another country, at another teams stadium, with a season ticket I bought for that team in my pocket, and all I can think about it is the horrible feeling in my gut that ‘we’re going to lose this. I just KNOW it. It’s terrible.

The journey back was the same. I was of no use to anyone, my mind slipping in and out of fantasy land. Then as I plonk my phone down on the table I see it has a message:

4-1 second half class



Thank fuck for that.