Italy’s footbal hacks face threats and veiled intimidation

February 8, 2016

Intimidation of sports journalists, specifically football reporters, is frequent. Threats come not just from violent supports, but increasingly from managers of the football clubs that don’t like being on the receiving end of criticism.

One of the most recent instances was when two journalists, Gian Piero Travini and Stefano Severi, were insulted on the Facebook page of Giorgio Lugaresi, president of Cesena Calcio, a football club in the Emilia Romagna region. The pair criticised Lugaresi during the TV show Tifo Cesena (I Support Cesena) broadcast by Video Regione on 28 December 2015. On that occasion, the two journalists made jokes about the fact that instead of attending the club’s last football match of the year, Lugaresi was on a trip to Thailand.

The next day, Lugaresi wrote that the two journalists were “poor-minded, blood-suckers with very modest intellectual qualities and miserable professional training”. This comment was deleted few hours later.

In other cases, journalists that don’t sing the praises of football clubs are victims of other, more veiled kinds of intimidation. In several cases, journalists have seen denied their access to matches and press conferences.

That is what happened to several journalists that follow the activities of Napoli Calcio, the football team of Naples. On 3 July 2015, at the presentation of the new coach of the team, Maurizio Sarri, the club invited only journalists from some media excluding others. The organisations of journalists defined that behavior as inappropriate and contrary to the right to be informed. It was not the first time that the managers of Napoli Calcio have acted in this way.  

The wild-eyed fanatics of football clubs can also be another cause of concern for journalists. A serious episode took place on 14 September 2015 in San Benedetto del Tronto (in the Marche region), where a group of 50 supporters of the local football team Sanbenedettese blocked access to the premises of the Vera Tv, preventing the journalist Giuseppe Ercoli and other guests of the programme that were scheduled that evening to get be in the studio. What they contested was that the journalist was going to conduct the Tv show called “TvB Calcio” (Football I Like You) that that night would have given space to the Ascoli Picchio team, historical rival of the Sanbenedettese. “A TV programme that talks of Ascoli cannot be transmitted from San Benedetto del Tronto,” the hooligans said. The police intervened. In the end, the show was broadcasted in a short form.

Other times fanatic supporters didn’t like the critical behavior of some journalists and have expressed their displeasure with banner to show during the football match. That is what happened to the journalist Dario Freccero, well-known editor of the newspaper Il Secolo XIX, who saw his name on a threatening poster exposed by the supporters at the Stadium of Chiavari (in Liguria region) during the football match between Sampdoria and Entella on August 12th, 2015. “Freccero beware” was written on the banner exhibited in the area of the Sampdoria supporters. In all the mentioned occasions the journalists’ union has expressed solidarity to the reporters involved and  in this specific episode it asked to the supporters to not damage the sport acting like this.

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