Radical media, politics and culture.

Currently Reading - I Furiosi/Balestrini/Soccer

The review of Balestrini's novels has now been updated. Although still in note form I intend to continue adding information about the period and clean the whole piece up, eventually. Comments and questions that can help me do that are especially welcome.

I've just started Balestrini's account of the Ultras (hardcore football supporters) of AC Milan, "I Furiosi" (The Fanatics). Soccer constitutes one of the central axis of modern Italian life and Rome is the site of a particularly intense local rivalry between Lazio, who drawe mopst of their support from the rural area outside the city and a couple of middle class areas in Rome itself.

Roma, who were born in the working class district of Testaccio, monopolise the sympathy of urban residents. Once upon a time there was also an important political distinction between the two sides. Lazio have a notorious right-wing following; the most entrenched section of their supporters -- the Irridicuibili -- are unapologetic fascists. In recent years they have been supplemented by newer and more aggresive formations such as the Banda Noantri. Club officials are quick to distance themselves from this aggresive stance but do nothing to curb the enthusiasms of fascist soccer-players such as Di Canio who is currently under investigation for having made a dascist salute (saluto romano) towards the terraces after scoring a goal. Perhaps because of Lazio's well established identity, Roma was previously considered to have a leftist terrace, and the major organised Ultra group was the CUCS (Commando Ultra Curva Sud) which contained individuals from Autonomia Operaia and cultivated a leftist culture. Some yeard ago the CUCS lost their supremacy on the terrace at knifepoint and to the degree to which politics is prsent today Rome is also on the far-right.

Interestingly this stadium iconography of celtic crosses, swastikas etc has not materialized into political movement in the city more generally, nor has it emerged as an active threat to leftist spaces.

As I've written elsewhere this has provoked a bad-tempered discuission between sport-hating intellectuals and football fans with regard to the relevance of organising within the stadiums. Livorno (or Livornograd as it is known, birthplace of the communist party where every second male seems to be called "Yuri" or "Vladimir", not the ost italian of onames ;)) established a fgirst front within Serie A this year. Their dominant supporters organisation is called the "Livorno Autonomist Brigade" (BAL) and angages in heavy communist iconography, to the point of being, or appearing, almost Soviet. But Livorno have become a point of reference for people countrywide concerned at reactionary hegemony in the stadiums.

Livorno and Lazio played last week in the Olympic Stadium in Rome and there was no doubt about the political signifcance of the occasion. Lazio won 3-1, but the day will be rememebered more for the abuse suffered by the Livorno fans who were arrested on masse after making a protest on their way home: they were arrested, abused and beaten. More than 250 of them have been banned from entering any stadium in Italy for the next five years (the so-called "diffida") a status already accorded to nearly three hundred Livorno fans.

The teams perfomance in their first year in Serie A provides consolation for this drubbing at the hands of criminal justice, as they are currently in 10th position in the league and safely out of danger of relegation. Other teams with a strong leftist folloowing include: Ascoli, Chievo, Fiorentina, Genoa, Pisa, Ternana, Torino, Viareggio and Messina. Supporters attempting to transform the terraces into spaces of left/libertarian political mobilization are cliustered around the group Resistenza Ultra.