laroma24.it (Gabriele Conflitti) Jurisprudence. The science of law, invented – coincidentally – by the Romans. 2,000 years later, it is now being practiced against them with arguably deliberate precision. The Giudice Sportivo has once again decided to use its powers to use Roma as a guinea pig, experimenting on them using methods that have never been practiced before. Strootman’s suspension is just the latest example of a series of unfortunate coincidences – the Giallorossi have had to pay a heavy price for the existence of previously unused laws and regulations over the years.
Rudi Garcia’s Roma had a superb 2013/14 campaign and finished the season in an impressive 2nd place, only behind a record-breaking Juventus side who collected 102 points. Among those who played a major role in taking the club back to the Champions League that season was Mattia Destro, who scored 13 goals. The Ascoli-born striker’s final 3 goals for the season all came against Cagliari, which secured Roma’s first win at the Sant’Elia of the millennium. He was subsequently banned for 4 games for apparently throwing a punch at Davide Astori as the pair tussled for the ball. However, the ban wasn’t the result of a sending off, but followed a review of the TV evidence. It was believed that “the Roma player’s gesture was unquestionably violent conduct”. To justify the decision, the authorities stressed “the voluntary nature of the act, the force imparted in the arm movement, the vulnerability of the area of the body he hit, and the physical impact of the blow”. They therefore considered that reviewing the TV evidence and punishing this “violent conduct, which wasn’t seen by the referee” was justifiable, handing Destro a 4 match ban: 3 for violent conduct plus 1 for accumulated yellow cards (since he had actually already been booked for his part in the incident). Roma’s appeal was dismissed, and as a result they were without their striker for the rest of the season. Destro was also omitted from Prandelli’s squad for the World Cup in Brazil, brutally falling foul of the coach’s code of ethics.
A few months later, Roma would again cross paths with the Giudice Sportivo. The Giallorossi had a difficult away game against Genoa which they did well to emerge from with all 3 points, thanks to Radja Nainggolan’s spectacular volley from Maicon’s cross. At the end of the game, tempers were running high, not helped by the fact Genoa had had a goal (correctly) disallowed. Diego Perotti, a Rossoblu player at the time, had kicked out at Roma’s full back Jose Holebas, and as Holebas left the pitch Genoa fans whistled him and threw things at him. As insults (and more) rained down on him, the Greek replied with “a provocative and insulting gesture” (giving the fans the middle finger) and was subsequently given a 1 match ban. Coach Rudi Garcia was also given a 2 match ban, following the testimony given by the Marassi’s steward coordinator.”At the end of the game, while my colleagues and I were going through the tunnel towards the dressing rooms, I was attacked by Roma’s coach Rudi Garcia, who grabbed me and tried to slap me in the face, but didn’t make contact. People who saw it pulled Mr Garcia away immediately. Another person, who was wearing a Roma tracksuit, grabbed me and one of my colleagues, and spat at me.” Both Garcia and Holebas were later exonerated: the Procura Federale suspended the coach’s ban and accepted Roma’s appeal against the full back’s suspension.
Giallorossi fans don’t like thinking about this date: 5th October, 2014. Level on points after 5 games, Juventus and Roma were facing each other in Turin for top spot. The Bianconeri took the lead with a dubious penalty converted by Tevez, but the quality of Garcia’s team allowed the Giallorossi to turn things around. Right at the end of the first half, Juventus were awarded another dubious penalty and the 2 teams went in level at 2-2 at half time. The game was decided by a highly contentious goal scored by Bonucci, as Skorupski was affected by Vidal standing in the path of the ball in a clearly offside position. However, the referee awarded the goal. The inconsistent (at best) application of the rules, which had changed a few months previously to take exactly this sort of situation into account, ended up costing Roma a lot more than 3 points.
If we were to categorise the relationship between Roma supporters and the authorities, then idyllic is about as far away from the answer as you can get. In the last few years the Observatory’s and the Questura’s harsh treatment of Roma supporters has caused extreme forms of protest. While the stadium has become virtually deserted as a result, the authorities have delighted in this and the subsequent drop in incidents occurring in and around the stadium on match day.
One of the first clashes between fans and the authorities came in December 2013, following a 2-2 draw between Milan and Roma. ‘Rossoneri carabinieri‘. That was the chant that ended up being used to prosecute supporters in the Giudice Sportivo – a pretty obvious mistake meant that carefree singing was interpreted as racism. The untrained ears of the Questura’s men at San Siro confused ‘carabinieri‘ with ‘squadra di neri‘ (team of blacks). This misinterpretation resulted in a ban and both of the Olimpico’s Curve – at the time the ultras were still going to games – were closed for 1 match. The decision was taken by Tosel, who was severely punishing half the Curve in Serie A at the time in the name of battling ‘territorial discrimination’. The sanction was later revoked following Roma’s appeal, which they won thanks to a video that exonerated the fans being accused of racism.
The latest exciting installment of the book ‘AS Roma in court’, this time featuring Kevin Strootman as the accused. Once again, the suspension wasn’t the result of the referee’s decision but rather followed an analysis of the TV evidence by the Giudice Sportivo. The Dutchman was given a 2 match ban – not, as some have wrongly said, for squirting water at Cataldi but instead for the “clear simulation” that followed “his shirt being yanked by Cataldi”. As with Destro, Strootman had also already been booked by the referee following the incident, but the Giudice Sportivo decided it was necessary to intervene with an iron fist to punish what they felt was unsportsmanlike behaviour. Roma’s general director Baldissoni confirmed that they have already decided to appeal against the number 6’s suspension; in the meantime, someone else is still waiting amongst his socks and belts to hear his judgement.