A typical stereotype of Italians is their passionate natures; they’re lovers, fighters, activists, and communicators. Although I don’t like to condone stereotypes, passion does seem pretty common here. And soccer is certainly not an exception to these passionate actions.
Today I went to a Florence soccer game- Fiorentina vs. Atalanta. My Italian school, LdM, organized 5 euro tickets for its students.
Everyone wears purple to the game, the Fiorentine color, with clothes of their crest, the fleur-de-lis (or giglio in Italian). Outside of the stadium, if you went unprepared, there are plenty of opportunities to buy clothes, scarves, hats and flags supporting the team from vendors.
Inside the stadium is the sea of purple. Fans wave their hats, flags, and scarves with excitement and passion for their team. The opposing team is seated in a corner, barricaded by plexi-glass walls, for when the games get very intense and competitive.
At the start of the game, the announcer introduced each member, first of the opposing team, then of the Fiorentine team. I first realized how important soccer was to the fans during the announcements; the announcer would say the number of the player, the first name, and then everyone in the stands would chant the last name. I felt like we were the only ones who didn’t know the lineup!
There were also a lot of chants and songs that the fans would sing (we would just clap along). Forza Viola, one of the cheers, basically means “Go Purple!” Their theme song is “Inno Fiorentina,” or the Florentine Anthem.
Whenever a goal was scored by Fiorentina, their anthem was played along with cheers and jeering to the other team. Purple smoke would go off in the crowds. People would jump up and down, waving their flags and scarves. A lot of people, though, would turn to the opponent’s fan corner (which is why I understand them being blocked off) and make crude gestures and mock them.
I think my friends and I were most amused by a sister and brother, around ten and eight years old, flipping off the other team’s fans whenever their parents weren’t looking. I didn’t even think the finger had significance in Italy. Not that I think their parents would have minded too much either way (they were clearly very spirited as well).
Despite not understanding most of the cheers and battling the cold, we had an amazing time at the game. Everyone was generally very happy and friendly (most likely because Fiorentina won 4-1). I noticed a bunch of Fiorentines trying to start conversations with Americans. I think that since each city is so involved and passionate about their soccer team, it creates a camaraderie. In America, we have our huge football, baseball and hockey fans, but this is somehow different. I think it is more personal for them. It is not an experience to miss though. You don’t need to be a soccer fan, you just need to be a Fiorentina fan.