The Viareggio Cup, one of the most prestigious youth tournaments in the world, is in full swing right now. Yesterday, the primavera sides for Fiorentina and Empoli met in a heated, entertaining match that ended as a 3-2 come-from-behind victory for the Viola that sees them through to the quarterfinals, with Riccardo Sottil, Gabriele Gori, and Marco Meli on the scoresheet. While that should be exciting enough, that’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re here to talk about the abhorrent conduct of some Fiorentina “fans” at the end of the match.
About forty of these despicable cowards gathered and began yelling at the Empoli players, claiming that a bad tackle from the Azzurri hadn’t been punished properly. The players told these bozos to shut up, and the so-called adults reportedly responded with racist chants (keep in mind that the captain of the Fiorentina Primavera is Abdou Diakhate, who is black) before throwing a rock that hit 18-year-old leftback Alessio Gianneschi in the face.
The FIGC has handed down a €3,000 fine to Fiorentina for the rock-throwing incident, also citing several glass bottles that were hurled at the Empoli players during warmups. The fine is a pretty goddamn lenient punishment, as the Viola could have been disqualified for such behavior amongst their fans, which still seems like a punishment that completely misses the point.
Fiorentina have apologized in a statement, saying, “We distance ourselves from what happened today in the Empoli-Fiorentina match at the Torneo Viareggio and condemn any form of violent conduct.”
So that apology is a load of bollocks. Nowhere does the club indicate that it’s trying to find out which of its fans yelled at and attacked a bunch of teenagers and take action against those “fans.” (The police have not asked for any help identifying the guilty parties either, which is pretty terrible as well.) This was a great opportunity for Fiorentina to show how clubs, both in Italy and the rest of the world, should deal with hooliganism: by working with authorities to find those responsible and punish them as harshly as possible. Instead, nobody has suffered except for Alessio Gianneschi.
The Viola tifosi have a reputation for being pretty relaxed. Part of this is that Fiorentina is a laid back city full of people who’d usually rather make a cutting remark than engage in violence. The team has traditionally leaned to the middle-left of the political spectrum, where you don’t encounter a lot of hooliganism. But this incident is a reminder that, even at a club like Fiorentina, there are always going to be some numbskulls, and that we can’t ignore them, because that’s how they get away with their numbskullery. If you see something—on this blog or anywhere in the (football or regular) world—please speak up, loudly and clearly and without hesitation.