UPDATE: For those of you viewing the post in your RSS feeder, there are videos that will only show when you click through to the post.
Being a big Roma AS soccer fan, S wanted to go to the Milan-Roma game on Saturday night, and I thought that was a good idea. I like sports, but I really appreciate LIVE sports compared to watching them on TV.
There was just one catch.
If we wanted to sit with the Romanisti (Rome fans), we would have to enter the stadium early and then wait until all the Milan fans left before we could exit after the game. Depending on the feeling of the fans, this could be hours until it was “safe” enough to leave. Lots of wasted time.
So S chose the other solution. We’ll just sit and be TOTALLY SURROUNDED by Milan fans.
No problem, right? Rome hadn’t won a game in Milan in –20 years– so he was hoping at least for a tie. I was hoping he could control his reactions.
After all, he wasn’t a “real fan.” Or at least, that’s what he told me when I first met him.
“I support the Rome team, but I’m not a real fan.”
I still remember the first time I understood what he meant by “not being a real fan.” It was early in our relationship, and he had come over to visit me when I was living in the Trastevere apartment in Rome. We sat on the only couch in the apartment with the radio on, listening to the Rome game. I sprawled across him and laid my head in his lap as we talked about various things.
Ah, idyllic love.
Suddenly S jumped straight up into the air, dislodging my head’s comfortable position and causing me to fall onto the floor. He pumped his fist. “Siiiiiiii! Evvai Roma! 1-0!!” I looked up at him through the strands of hair that covered my face, my near-perfect do now reduced to a soccer casualty. Luckily(?) he didn’t notice.
That’s when I realized:
A real fan goes to away games. And definitely goes to games at the stadium. If you can’t go to the stadium, you buy satellite and watch the games on TV (Sky now has sole rights to show Series A games on television). If you don’t want to buy satellite, you go to the nearest bar with Sky and watch the game there.
If you don’t go to the nearest bar, you put on the Italian television show where you watch other people watch the games and comment on them. You watch the commentators in the stadium press boxes, watching the games. You see shots of the fans in the stadium, watching the games. Sometimes you even see re-enactments of goals or key plays by a set of “players” the studio hired and are acting out at a nearby field. But you never see the game itself.
A real fan would also watch all the goal recaps on the various news shows later that evening.
Last in line of being a fan is listening to the game on the radio, and dislodging your loved one when your team scores.
So, while I wasn’t with a real fan at the Rome-Milan game, I was still a bit concerned.
We had the Rome fans right behind us, so S would hum their songs under his breath. There were only a couple thousand of them, but they were rowdy and loud and constantly singing and yelling things.
The Ultras, or superfans for Milan were on the opposite side of the stadium.
You can hear the Romanisti singing a song while Milan (in red) is hoping to get a shot on goal. I didn’t get any of the goals because I couldn’t sit there with my camera filming everything or I’d miss the game! After they lost this opportunity to score and thought there was a bad call by the referee, the Milan fans weren’t happy – check out all the hands “chopping” straight out – this is the classic Italian protest.
The Rome fans were also setting off VERY loud bombs that I have to admit even scared me and this was angering the Milan fans. It also seemed to have angered the Polizia because about 50 of them filed up to the space between the Milan fans and the Rome fans. Here they are filing past us. I’m not sure if they were there to protect us or to protect the Rome fans from the Milan ones.
Since we had the goal right under us, every time there was action in that area, people would stand up to see better. Since the person in front of you stood up, you couldn’t see, so you stood up, too. It created this fascinating ripple effect that I probably shouldn’t have noticed if I was totally concentrating on the game, but I did nonetheless (oops). We stood up and sat down so many times it felt like a Catholic wedding.
It was difficult for S to remain silent with all the comments by the Milan fans, but there was one Milanista in particular that was really bothering him because he was making fun of S’s favorite player, Francesco Totti. Totti had a child last year, and in tribute to his son, he sucks his thumb after every goal he scores.
Obviously, this makes him a candidate for much ridicule. Totti scored in the first half of the game (you can see the goal here), and then Milan struck back and scored. This Milan superfan near us put on a little show for the Rome fans to enrage them or make himself look ridiculous. He accomplished both, in my opinion.
Little did he know that S was sitting nearby, watching him and getting angry. When Totti scored his second goal (see it here) and the only two Roma goals of the night, a bag of taralli flew down the stairs towards where the superfan was sitting, smashing on the stairs beside him.
They were from Puglia and strangely the same brand that S’s mother sends us.
Luckily everyone thought S was just another Milan fan enraged by the goal. Lucky for me, too! Final score that night, Milan 1, Roma 2. Totti scored two goals and Rome won on Milan turf after 20 years. It was a good day to be a Romanista.
We waited until we were at the metro for me to put the Rome scarf around my neck. I only saw one other person wearing one – a girl whose boyfriend was obviously a Romanista too and had done the same thing as us by sitting in the middle of Milan.