Last Friday night a couple of banners were pushing the Roma president to leave the club. He replied to the fans trying to explain his position.
When your company is also a reason for living for millions of people your job is definitely more difficult. Roma president Jim Pallotta is slowly discovering the susceptibility of soccer fans, their pride in promoting the greatness of their team, and their blinding ardor in defending their passion.
The clash was triggered once more after Pallotta’s statement at the event “Leaders in Sports” that took place in London. In that occasion, the American investor spoke about the weak security measures at the stadiums in Italy. He also pointed out that problems often arise in Rome and Naples rather than in the north of the ‘Bel Paese’.
Pallotta’s words drove a few Roma fans crazy. “You must support your people, not the security guards!” was written on a wall. This was just one of the many demonstrations of disappointment towards the Bostonian. However, the main fracture between the president and the Roma fans dates back to the moment when a few supporters exposed a banner mentioning Ciro Esposito’s mother at the Stadio Olimpico. The president reacted categorizing these people as a group of ‘fucking idiots’.
Yesterday, a group of the Curva Sud called ‘Roma’ released a statement to express their anger against the American tycoon. “We don’t want the stadium anymore! We don’t want a president like you! We represent AS Roma forever. Many James will come and go. Curva Sud will always exist! Proudly, the ‘fucking idiots‘”.
The current situation is worrying. The club is passing through a moment of turmoil. The results on the field are disappointing and the relationship between Pallotta and the fans is at a historical low. Today, the American investor used the AS Roma official website to clarify the situation.
“I am very sorry that my words were deliberately misinterpreted. I cannot accept such a manipulation by the media.” – said, Pallotta.
“We had an open dialog with the Italian police for one year. We expressed our disappointment for a restriction that we have always considered to be unequal to our supporters. In London, I’ve further explained that technology will be important in the future because it will be necessary to find and punish only those people that are really responsible for a crime. We have to protect all the other fans.“
The club and the fans have to mediate for a common goal. Both parties want the best for the sake of AS Roma. Although last year’s facts highlighted that Rome and Naples are not the only two locations where turmoil was experienced, the total rebirth of the Italian soccer must pass through the construction of new facilities. The current scenario in Italy is disappointing and shocking. The ‘Bel Paese’ features inadequate stadiums such as the Olimpico in Rome, a facility that was upgraded for the 1990 World Cup and that is now obsolete.
Focussing on the appeal that the Roma president has toward the fans I believe that there is a total misunderstanding going on. It is primarily a matter of traditions and how sports are seen in America. Those who believe that clubs must be managed taking care of the business side, implementing strategies, and improving sustainability are probably supporting president Pallotta. Those that are interested in this sport primarily for the result on the field nowadays have the right to complain but they also have the duty of seeing the big picture. Although the final result is the only thing that matters in sports, a project needs time to be efficient and sustainable. Pallotta is working at 360 degrees to improve the potential of this club. Albeit some could say that he is doing this only to increase his wealth, if his strategies will work well for him they will benefit the supporters too. Who cares if the construction of the new stadium will boost his personal wealth, that facility will always be an asset to the club even when the Bostonian investor will decide to monetize on his investment.
Sometimes I believe that fans are just instinctively reacting with a sort of bias toward a man that is perceived to be detached and not passionate about the team and the city. This may be true but it really doesn’t matter. Viola and Sensi’s periods were different. For some of you, they could have been even better people, but the reality is that their business models could not have been efficient nowadays. The current soccer goes hand in hand with business, return on investments, sponsorship deals, and intricate financial operations sometimes incomprehensible to their complexity.
The Roma fans must have the necessary attitude and willingness to evaluate things from different angles. Press and media are important to spread knowledge and trigger people’s interest in facts. The reality, though, is not only what we primarily perceive reading something but what we analyze and judge without prejudices.