Last time Juventus came to Florence for the Coppa Italia in 2022, the Curva Fiesole responded with one of the most incredible displays we’ve ever seen. From the pre-match choreography, featuring Dante Alighieri in profile against purple flames with the legend “Fiorenza...per lo ‘nferno il tuo nome si spande”, to the volume of the crowd—the TV commentators had to turn off the pitch-side microphones because the stadium was so loud, which they’d never experienced before—it was indescribable.
As Juve return tomorrow, though, there won’t be a sequel in the stands, because the Curva won’t be in attendance. Despite pleas to the league office to postpone the game in honor of the victims of the record flooding throughout Tuscany that’s left at least 6 people dead and thousands stranded without electricity, gas, or drinking water, Serie A has decided to stick to the schedule.
Instead of the record crowd that fans had hoped to assemble, the Curva has decided instead to focus its energy towards assisting those hit by the floods, boycotting the match so that members of the official supporters groups can aid and clean up wreckage throughout the region. As a result, the atmosphere in the Stadio Artemio Franchi will be extremely subdued.
Perhaps the most irritating part is that, as Fiorentina fans unite to help their neighbors, certain segments of the Juve fanbase have attacked them, claiming that any calls of respect for victims of disasters are disingenuous given the disgusting record that some segments of the Viola fanbase possess in regards to the Heysel stadium disaster. Especially in a moment of crisis brought on by something as universally concerning as global warming, settling scores like this feels small and cruel.
While I understand that the local authorities and Serie A brain trust have a difficult job in these situations, the refusal to even consider a postponement feels tone deaf at best. We’ve seen matches postponed for disasters in the past—the Ponte Morandi tragedy in 2018, for example—so it’s clearly not an insurmountable logistical difficulty, especially in the face of a natural disaster like this.
It’s also not an exaggeration to say that the Curva’s efforts to help those affected by the disaster aren’t merely lip service. Florence mayor Dario Nardella—not always on the best of terms with the supporters due to the lack of refurbishment of the Artemio Franchi—has praised the supporters as the new Mud Angels, harking back to the infamous 1966 flood that nearly flattened Florence itself.
With the rain still hammering down in Tuscany, perhaps the pitch will be too wet for calcio and the game will get postponed at the last minute. Perhaps that would be for the best, although more rain is the last thing those thousands of people affected by the flooding want. But with the area overwhelmed by floods, a soccer game ought to be the last thing on anyone’s mind.