Disgruntled Roma fans have called for a boycott of this weekend’s capital derby in protest at security measures introduced at the Stadio Olimpico ground they share with city rivals Lazio.
Lazio host Champions League-chasing city rivals Roma on Sunday but the weekend’s big fixture could leave yet another negative impression of Italy’s Serie A.
Roma fans have deserted many of the club’s games this season and on Thursday several banners were seen around the city calling for fans to stay away.
“The Olimpico unites people, barriers divide feelings,” was the message on one banner, while another called for fans to watch the game on a big screen at a popular meeting place: “3-4-16, everyone get to Testaccio!”
City authorities in Rome tightened security measures by constructing a barrier down the middle of the ‘Curva Nord’ and ‘Curva Sud’ ends of the ground, splitting them in two.
Controls at the entrances to the Curva have also been tightened, angering many of the ‘hardline’ or ‘ultra’ fans of Roma who traditionally congregate there.
They have responded by staying away — a situation that has seen the Olimpico embarrassingly devoid of supporters for many big games and led to an impasse between Roma president James Pallotta and the fans.
However the Rome Prefect, Franco Gabrielli, indicated the barriers were staying put.
“We haven’t taken a step backwards or forwards, all we have done is carried out work inside the stadium aimed at making it more secure for the people inside it,” he said Thursday.
Although the barriers are removable, Gabrielli said: “Until those who are responsible for health and safety say it is fine to remove them, they will remain.
“They can be taken away, but we have to comply with the rules. A stadium is a public place and it is subject to the law of the land.”
Roma, who have finished runners-up to Juventus the past two seasons in Serie A, sit in third place, 10 points behind leaders Juve and seven behind second-placed Napoli. Lazio are in eighth.