Guest post by Martino Simcik Arese
Nearly 6,500 Feyenoord supporters have made the trip to Rome in anticipation for tonight’s Europa League match. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a celebration has been marred by yet another case of reckless football violence.
Last night, around 200 Feyenoord supporters squared off with local police after a long day of drinking and chanting. The scenes took place in Rome’s Campo dei Fiori, the same square where a group of fascist activists attacked Tottenham supporters in 2011. The first round of running battles between the Feyenoord faithful and the police concluded early this morning, leading to 23 arrests and several hundred thousand euros in damages. As a result, officials have banned the sale of alcohol in many of the city’s districts until midnight this evening.
Today the Spanish steps became the new meeting place for the more extreme fringes of the Dutch support. There, more clashes took place with police, and one of Rome’s many monuments has been ravaged, as supporters mindlessly took out their frustrations on the Eternal city’s famed granite steps.
There certainly won’t be the large crowds that we have grown accustomed to at the round of 16 Europa League match between Rome and Feyenoord tonight. Thus far, around 25,000 tickets have been sold, 5,000 of which are Dutch fans. Tickets have gone up by 10 euros per seat since A.S. Roma last participated in the Europa League (2011/2012), and the recent violence has certainly done little to attract level headed supporters to the Olimpico.
It is important to note that the police in Rome have a history of coming down hard on supporters. Today, Feyenoord sent a letter to the police headquarters in Rome expressing their dissatisfaction with the way their supporters were received, and at the last minute changes made to the meeting point to head to the game. Before we try and associate the negative behaviour of 200 or so people with an entire club, lets take a moment to remember some of the better moments of the Feyenoord faithful. After all, what happened over the last 24 hours in Rome has nothing to do with football. Supporters culture is about aggregation and exchange which can readily be found in other neighbourhoods of the city.
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