A look at some of the context behind the vicious attack by fascists on Tottenham fans in Rome before the teams met for their Europa League tie.
Considering last weekend's result, it feels pretty odd for me - as an Arsenal fan - to sit down and try to write something about Tottenham that isn't just about how shit they are. But that's what's happening. A couple of things have happened over the past few weeks that means gloating about a derby victory takes a back seat to the other stuff.
The most recent would be the highly organised attack by around 50 Lazio supporters - wearing helmets and armed with bats and knives - on a group of Spurs fans the evening before the teams met in the Europa League group stage. Around ten ended up in hospital, four with serious injuries including one that had been stabbed. The next day, so as to leave little mystery as to why the ambush happened, Lazio fans then chanted "Juden Tottenham" during the game (they also unfurled a 'Free Palestine' banner but that's more stupid than anti-semitic as they hate Arabs and Muslims at least as much as they hate Jews).
The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, has said that any anti-semitic motive would "heighten the gravity of the attack" and that the events of that night demonstrates that "there are groups of criminals that go around our stadiums pretending to be supporters and this is not admissible".
However, on Alemanno's part, this is pure spin. In all his comments about what happened, one word has been noticeably missing: "fascists". For good reason, he's one of them. Once a youth leader of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, Alemanno became mayor in 2008, promising to expel 20,000 illegal immigrants and burn down 85 Romanian gypsy camps around the capital. His victory was celebrated by crowds of people chanting "Duce! Duce!" (an Italian term for 'leader' used for Benito Mussolini) and raising their arms in the fascist Roman salute.
More recently, Alemanno also allowed former far-right terrorist Franco Freda (implicated in the 1967 Piazza Fontana bombing, which killed 17 and injured 88) to use government meeting rooms for a public presentation of his book and even used almost €12 million of state funds to buy a building for the far-right group Casapound in central Rome.
That anti-semitism was the main reason for the attack is pretty obvious. Spurs are known internationally as 'the Jewish team' and Lazio are known for having one of the most unapologetically fascist ultras firms in the world. So it's clear that this wasn't just two football firms fighting each other in the city centre. This was an attack orchestrated by fascist gangs who have basically been given the all clear to do as they please by the mayor of the city. The presence of Roma fans amongst the attackers shows that club rivalry was replaced by political loyalty.
Funnily enough, this attack comes a couple of weeks after the Society of Black Lawyers threatened to make a complaint to the Metropolitan Police, accusing Spurs fans of anti-semitism for calling themselves 'Yids'! Now we can all agree that Tottenham are a massive bunch of cunts, but calling them anti-semites because they refused to be embarrassed about their association with the Jewish community is clearly rubbish. And it shows how empty liberal anti-racism is, obsessed with 'bad words' over the actual relationship and context of the people who use them.
If anything, the events in Rome should have shown the Society of Black Lawyers that rather than spreading anti-semitism, Tottenham fans have been targetted for their proud anti-racist stance. It seems that fascists have understood it, it seems strange that some so-called anti-racists haven't.