Roberto Donadoni had this to say about the Scottish fans whose exemplary behavior belied the heartbreak they must have felt at losing to Italy on a stoppage time goal by Christian Panucci, the result of an Andrea Pirlo free kick awarded for a dubious foul on Girgio Chellini.
"Scotland's fans showed how to behave and get behind a team. Their correctness gives us all something we can learn from."
The world watched at the horrific turn of events taking place in the Serie last week. Donadoni spoke from the heart when he appealed to the Italian soccer fraternity to control the situation.
"Totally crazy what happened in Bergamo and then in Rome. Something that makes you nauseous and you just want to get it all out."
Indeed. You can show you support and pride for your team whether it is club or country by means other than violence. By praising the Scottish fans, Donadoni was drawing a distinction between how they handled frustration and the recent violence in the Italian league. But before this becomes a tract in EO Wilson's innateness, it is fair to say that Scottish fans have themselves seen quite a bit of violence associated with the legendary Old Firm rivalry with its popular distinction between the Rangers and its Protestant base against the Celtics and their predominantly Catholic hue. Much of the rivalry is reflected in the sectarian nature of their songs but in the past has occasionally spilled into bloodshed. Of course, these distinctions are more nuanced. But if a US president does not do nuance well while sober then large masses of chanting fans fueled by alcohol and bawdy songs should be cut some slack.
However since 2001 there has been no such major outbreaks of violence because of initiatives taken up organizations like Nil by Mouth following Mark Scott's murder in 1995, legislative amendments recognizing sectarianism as a crime, the recording of sectarian offenses, and effective law and order measures to deal with them. In Italy, the security aspect is handled by stewards who are unable to handle large crowds when they riot. The police by default resorts to heavy handed punitive methods that are reactionary which only exacerbates the violence. Whatever the reason whether it is sectarianism or the Ultras that drive soccer violence, preventive law and order measures should be effective in stopping them. The first step in rehabilitating soccer in Italy is to recognize you have a problem which is what Scotland seems to have acknowledged and is now developing secondary and tertiary methods of dealing with it.
As Donadoni put it, "I think that we are hostages of this violence, but we cannot be slaves like this."