Dirty Tackle

Genoa match halted as ultras demand players hand over their shirts, which they did

Genoa captain Marco Rossi collects his teammates' shirts to hand over. (AP)

A small group of Genoa "ultras" put on an incredible display of fan power during Sunday's match against Siena. After Siena took a 4-0 lead over relegation-threatened Genoa early in the second half, the hardcore supporters group began their protest and essentially held the match hostage.

From Football Italia:

Genoa were losing 4-0 at the 53rd minute when the Marassi crowd halted play by throwing fireworks and climbing on top of the tunnel.

Captain Marco Rossi went to negotiate with the ultras, who demanded the squad remove their jerseys, as they were "unworthy" of wearing the Genoa colours.

After some time, the players accepted and there were tears from Giandomenico Mesto as he handed over his shirt.

Rossi was walking around the pitch with a pile of jerseys to show the fans, but Giuseppe Sculli refused to co-operate.

Sculli then went over to the ultras standing atop the tunnel and delivered an impassioned plea, making it clear that he didn't want to hand over his shirt because he was giving his all. Goalkeeper Sebastien Frey also refused to take off his shirt and argued with fans behind his goal. As the riot police continued to loiter, Sculli's speech and the supporters' protest then ended with Sculli in tears and being consoled by one of the ultras.

Here's video (via 101gg) of how the odd scene unfolded...

The match then resumed after a 45-minute delay and finished without further incident as Genoa lost 4-1 (their one goal was a Siena own goal).

After the match, Italian football chiefs expressed their unease over fans exhibiting so much control. From the AP:

''This violence is unacceptable,'' Italian soccer federation President Giancarlo Abete said. ''These are not fans. I hope these people are found and condemned. They shouldn't ever be allowed to enter stadiums again.''

Genoa president Enrico Preziosi said ''it's upsetting that 60 or 100 people have the impunity to do and say what they feel like without being stopped and sent home.''

''It's not possible that they take over the stadium and impose their laws,'' he said.

Well, it appears that it is, Mr. Preziosi.

UPDATE: Football Italia and Sky Sports Italia now reporting that Genoa sacked manager Alberto Malesani after the match. This is the second time Malesani has been sacked by Genoa this season.

UPDATE II: According to the AP, three fans who led the protest have been identified via videotape and banned from attending any live sporting events for five years. Local police say more bans will follow once more leaders are identified. The club, meanwhile, has been banned from playing their final two home matches of the season at their home stadium.

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