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Ultras, Touting and Mafia: The Mysterious Suicide Of The Juventus S.L.O.

As officially requested by FIFA, Supporters Liaison Officers are meant to mediate between clubs and fan groups. These intermediaries however are at risk of being dragged into one of the two murky worlds they mediate. Something like this seems to have happened at Juventus, leading to tragic consequences.

If you google the words “suicide” and “Juventus”, the first references that come up are closely linked to Gianluca Pessotto who jumped from a window in 2006 after the verdict of the Calciopoli scandal. The rumourmongers believe that it was nothing to do with the actual football side of things but rather related to his wife cheating on him with a team-mate. Another reference that comes up is Gigi Buffon who in the past battled against deep depression.

Recently though, the web has been inundated with news related with the suicide of Raffaello Bucci, 40 years old, official Supporters Liaison Officer for Juventus. Despite being a position officially requested by FIFA, the profession of the SLO in Italy is still struggling to find full recognition and the risk is that eventually the rope might just either snap to the detriment of the person hired or the SLO can be dragged in one of the two murky worlds he is trying to mediate with. On one side the ultras (who we will always defend at FAN’s Magazine), and on the other the clubs, who are doing nothing to give more power to these intermediaries, who are not even fully visible to fans.

Officially, the tasks of the SLO include – acting as a link between supporters and club, checking ticket sales, interceding in case of problems arising, verifying difficulties to enter the ground and mediate, if necessary, with supporters. On paper, these are technical responsibilities, which are however directly related to tasks of public order. Mr Bucci was also a security guard, and this allowed him to remain always unscathed in terms of justice.

Recently though, investigators had questioned him as informed witness, about alleged infiltrations of the ‘Ndrangheta – the Calabrian mafia – amongst Juve ultras (some were said to promote the formation of a new ultra group). Bucci appeared to have been left shaken by the hearing. Hours after giving his version of the story to the investigators, he drove to the viaduct between Turin and Savona where he jumped from 20 metres, killing himself. Causes are still unclear but, considering the place is exactly the same from where Edoardo Agnelli leapt into the void 16 years ago (although his death is still shrouded in mystery and even a book has been written about it), it’s difficult to think that Juventus were in no way involved in the motivations that drove him to this fatal act. Meanwhile, Dino Mocciola, the leader of the Drughi who already had his troubles in terms on internal battles with other leaders of the “Curva” in the past, has disappeared. Investigators have been trying to reach him to no avail. Nobody knows where he is.

Bucci’s case is just the latest in a series of unresolved incidents involving Juve ultras. Most of them regard the profits made with freebies given by the club and then sold outside the ground at an exponentially expensive price. But there is also another one, which is linked with the development of the new stadium in 2011. Facts state that a girl lied by saying that a gipsy had raped her. This triggered a protest with Juve’s “Bravi Ragazzi” leading an angry group of people who eventually burned down the Romani camping on the site where the new stadium would later be built. Enquiries are still on-going but at this stage it’s never been clarified if the “BR” were moved by racial hatred or rather by ‘something else.’ And yet there’s a feeling that eventually everything will be once again buried under the sand.

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