Published On: Mon, May 23rd, 2011

Lazio vs Roma – Derby della Capitale

Roma v LazioMany fans unfamiliar with Italian football would point to Inter v AC Milan as ‘the’ Serie A derby.  But nothing can match Lazio v Roma for levels of passion, pride and often violence.

Roma was founded by combining three out of the four large Rome based clubs – Roman, Alba-Audace and Fortitudo.  This was order by the Fascist regime in an attempt to challenge the dominance of the northern clubs.  Lazio were the only major team in Rome to resist the move and stay a separate entity, and from here the rivalry really began.

The derby is seen as a battleground in which to stake a reputation on being the best club in Rome.  The fans hate each other, but this seems a light term to use after looking at recent events.  Lazio have recently unfurled racist banners at matches and some of the Ultras have used Swastikas as a symbol.  A minority of Lazio fans even showed their support for a Serbian war criminal in 2000.  Ultas from both clubs have right wing ideologies which may explain why at some games Roma fans have displayed their own racist banners.

One of the best matches in recent time was in 1998 and was full of controversy.  It was a huge game for Roma who had lost the last 4 derby games on the spin and needed a win to prevent the fans getting more abuse from victories opposition supporters.  Roma took the lead in the first half only for Roberto Mancini to equalize and then Mancio put Lazio in the lead.  A second half penalty put Lazio 3-1 up only for an incredible Roma comeback with 2 goals in the last 10 minutes.  There was even time left for a Roma goal to be chalked off for offside.

In the 1998/99 season Lazio, who at one stage were seven points clear at the top, took a 3-1 hammering at Roma which put a huge dent in their title hopes.  They would go on to loose the title by one point to Milan.

In March 2002 there was another memorable encounter with Roma running out 5-1 winners at Lazio.  Fabio Capello’s Roma took an early lead and never looked back, with Vincenzo Montella scoring four goals in the rout.  This would be Lazio’s biggest ever home defeat in the Derby della Capitale.

Unfortunately controversy is never far from the derby, and in 2005 Paolo Di Canio gave the fascist salute after the match.  In 1979 a Lazio fan was hit in the eye by a flare and killed.  The flare was thrown from the Roma end and Vincenzo Paparelli became the first person to die from football related violence in Italy. And in 2004 violence erupted in one of the worst incidents of recent years.

The match was abandoned four minutes into the second half with riots breaking out in the stands after false rumours were spread that a boy had been killed by a police car outside the ground.  There was actually an injured boy outside the ground – he had been overcome by the tear gas being used by police that was thick in the air, and medics had put a white sheet over him to try and filter the gas.  Fans at the back of the stand saw this and took him to be dead.

Despite attempts by police to deny the rumour over the stadiums loud speakers three of Roma’s Ultras marched onto the pitch and spoke to Roma captain Francesco Totti, who then asked for the match to be abandoned.  After the match a battle was fought between fans and police in the streets around the stadium and fires were started.  In the end over 170 police and countless fans were injured.

The violence is unlikely to ever decline between the supporters and whilst the derby itself is held in high esteem it will always be smeared by the actions of the minority.  For every classic game between these two there is an equally tragic event; be it a supporter’s death, riots or racism.

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