Cut the Grass

Last week I read an interview in The Guardian with Dietmar Hamann, the German midfielder who despite being just that, was funny and came across as a really interesting person. My favorite part—after him lying down in the middle of a road to hail a cab, a story withdrawn from competition for being too good—was his recounting of acclimatizing to Liverpool. It came in part through visits to pubs loyal to Everton, seeing as he wasn't bothered there at all by their fans unlike when he moved in red circles of the city. Then I remembered the time Phillipe Mexès got into a punch-up with some Lazio fans outside a nightclub: Rome is a climate tougher than most.


The difficulty in working in Rome's football environment is well known and noted through the ages from players, coaches and presidents alike. But recent events might just take the prize for most insane/bizarre/frightening/laughably stupid yet. The prosecution's offer has started an investigation to attempted blackmail of AS Roma and some of its directors, one Franco Baldini in primis. The investigation isn't focusing on your usual suspects for such an offense, but some of the city's most prolific sports journalists: Marione, ex(?) fascist, and radio host, as well as Roberto Renga, who bolsters no such past but a lamentable future which he seems to have dedicated to discrediting AS Roma. When his writing doesn't do the trick, blackmail and fraud will...? The case is known in Italian press as dossieraggio, and is little more than digging up dirt (or putting it there as need be), and using it to win/regain advantages. In this case it was the "collecting" of "evidence" that Franco Baldini, and others, are freemasons; information gained through text messages (You're not alone, I too wonder how that was the best story they could come up with). This "information" was then shopped around as they tried to sell it; in a funny twist and coincidence, that was how it came to the attention of the authorities, as one of Ilary Blasi's colleagues didn't think being approached with the offer was such a thrilling idea. Although I was in no position to be left disappointed by Marione's involvement (a sentiment whose prerequisite is a having expectations in the first place), Renga's—should it be confirmed—is both outrageous and regrettable. While I hold the journalist in question in no higher regard, his influence is still real to some degree. Using that position of trust to manipulate readers on account of a personal agenda is condemnable. And we haven't even gotten into the investigation, which I'll trust be handled in the correct manner.

It's impossible to know the exact reason and circumstances of why so many journalists, radio hosts, etc, have a problem with the new Roma. Although it is easy to guess and generalize that change freaks people out, especially when it takes away their daily bread (see Rosella Sensi's army of gardeners for further reference), there are likely to be many reasons very personal and specific to their persons, as well. It is important, of course, to refuse to be any part of the poison these snakes spit in the general direction of AS Roma. It is important, of course, to stand behind the club more now than ever and refuse to let the pettiness, greed and envy of those shut out to taint it

I was reminded of this when Luca Di Bartolomei, whose father was Agostino, in response to a push to name a new stadium after his father reminded us fans not to forget the others who helped build the history of AS Roma. What about Nils Liedholm, for example? While not a formal representative nor employee of AS Roma, Mr. Di Bartolomei is a moral representative whose opinions are well balanced and altruistic. Then think back to the abortion that was Stadio Franco Sensi, a house of cards, built on sand, seemingly existing solely for the purpose of putting Rosella's father's name on it. A final way of ensuring his legacy live on forever. The financing, the needs, the permits...whatever, that was an afterthought: the name was ostensibly the driving force.

Pondering the difference between those reactions, it shouldn't be very difficult at all to stand behind the new Roma.