Amongst the biggest clubs in Europe’s top leagues, Roma’s ultras have an especially violent record. While most clubs have largely moved past the kind of fan violence that often marred the sport twenty or thirty years ago, Roma still seem stuck in the 80s.
In 2007 they stabbed five Manchester United supporters. A few years later, Tottenham supporters were targeted. Just as rivals Arsenal had been. And as Chelsea fans were. And, back in 2001, Liverpool. Even Middlesbrough’s fans were targeted.
They’ve gone after fans from other countries, too—and their own. Even in matches their club isn’t involved in. Meanwhile, the Italian press this week have talked up the arrival of up to a thousand Liverpool “ultras,” providing tacit cover for more Roma violence.
All clubs have bad fans, and Liverpool’s have in the past been responsible for their share of European violence. The difference is that Roma have a violent present, and their worst fans—their worst ultras—have a list of victims unmatched in the current millennium.
It’s a situation that, rather unbelievably, UEFA appear unmotivated to address and one that is only being fuelled by the Italian press and some others treating it as though there isn’t one consistent running through incident after incident after incident: Roma fans.
To their credit, though, while others are failing, Roma as a club are at least making the right noises and calling on their fans to stand against the violence in their own ranks. Now the question is whether those words will have any effect come Wednesday.
“At this time when we talk about violence, we need to make it clear Roma fans are not violent,” director of football Monchi said, echoing president Jim Pallotta’s message to Roma fans. “Football and life are two different things. We are all human beings.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean he wants to give Liverpool an easy time of it on the pitch or for the atmosphere at Roma’s Stadio Olimpico to be muted. He wants it loud and passionate and he wants Roma to do to Liverpool what they did last round to Barcelona.
“Beating Liverpool is more difficult than beating Barcelona,” he added. “Tomorrow does not exist—it ends all Wednesday and we must not leave anything in it. Every grandfather, every nephew, son, father, mother. Everybody plays on Wednesday.”