[singlepic=18,260,195,right]Gabriele Sandri, a well-known DJ from Rome and a Lazio supporter, was shot dead by the police this morning at a gas station in Badia al Pino, Arezzo. This followed an incident in which a group of Lazio ultras had attacked Juventus fans in their cars, the latter appealing for help from passing police; the shooting that followed is being reported by the media as accidental.
Today’s Lazio-Inter game has been postponed, and ultras are protesting throughout the country — rumours are circulating the internet wildly already, with claims that Sandri was shot multiple times. The Atalanta v Milan game was stopped due to fans breaking down a glass barrier, and Lazio fans have unfurled banners reading “Assassini, assassini” against the police. Many ultras are furious the rest of the day’s games were only delayed for fifteen minutes rather than cancelled altogether.
This may well all get a lot worse before it gets better. Two bloggers are on the case, Martha from the Italy Offside and in Italy, Spangly Princess.
Update: Be sure to read the comments below, with updates coming in from readers ursus and Ben.
Update 2: As I feared, things did get a lot worse: rioting broke out in Rome. Go read Spangles on the latest from Italy.
And again, “politics not football”:
Trouble started around 18h in the residential quarter on the other side of the river at the local headquarters of the squadra mobile (rapid response investigative police, who often deal with football related criminal activity). The crowd, variously estimated at from 200 to 1000 people, moved off when their initial siege was held off, rampaging around the area and finally crossing over to the stadium where they attacked the headquarters of CONI, the governing body for all sports in Italy. An incendiary device was thrown into the building, windows were smashed, vehicles and wheelie bins were overturned and set on fire, and according to some reports several hundred people broke into the building. Dozens of policemen and carabinieri have been treated for injuries of varying gravity.
It was, in essence, the pre- and post-match violence of a super fraught fixture, only without the match.
Driving past half an hour ago, the streets are littered with rubble, wrenched up road signs and abandoned 2m metal poles used as weapons. Overturned bins lie in the road. Fully armed riot police are still conspicuous by their presence. The whole area is lit up like an even less salubrious Blackpool – the stadium floodlights are on full, and as we drove northwards from the centre we ould say the whole area glowing a fierce white. The place was eerily empty of non-police. But it looked like a war zone.
Update 3: Gramsci’s Kingdom discusses the remarkably widespread and rapid response to the events, pointing to the failure of Italian state as the root cause of the rioting. As he puts it, “Today’s events, fundamentally, are not about football. They are about a society in deep, deep trouble. No one trusts authority. No one believes that any guilty party will be punished. And, without the reassurance that justice will be done, they take matters into their own hands.”