Liverpool fans, unfortunately, have had to become reacquainted with Italian ultra culture in the last week. While Roma, as a club, are saying and doing the right things, it did not prevent 53-year-old Irish Liverpool supporter Sean Cox from being hospitalized prior to kickoff last week.
In a show of support for Cox, Roma players donned a training kit yesterday reading “Forza Sean” across the chest.
Jurgen Klopp was asked about the gesture during the press conference yesterday.
“I think Roma did a great gesture and I thought they already did a great gesture at Anfield, when they visited the [Hillsborough] memorial,” Klopp said. “We are two teams who show the maximum respect for the other side.
”It’s really nice thing and in these moments, all football fans -- we are professionals but we are also football fans -- should stay together and show this kind of things.”
It is heartening to see the on-pitch rivals showing solidarity off-pitch. Critics will point out that more could be done—and it could—but the messaging is at least on-point.
Hopefully there will not be a similar incident (or worse) from Roma ultras tonight, but sadly, no one can be surprised if violence ensues.
The problem of violence surrounding football is bigger than just Roma, or Italy. While it is nothing compared to the bad old days in the 80’s, it is still shockingly common. Until UEFA comes down hard on teams—as they had to against English sides—this culture, both from the minority of violent supporters, and those who tacitly support them from inaction, will continue.