the absurd comedy staged at the stadium. That could end in tragedy -

the absurd comedy staged at the stadium.  That could end in tragedy -

Of Matthew Cruccu

The trip turned into an odyssey, at the culmination of a series of misunderstandings and organizational disasters that could have very serious consequences. Here's how it went

Italian?, No, no, I'm from England. I never thought in my life that I would have to disguise my origins in order to achieve something. Yet what absurdly happened on Tuesday evening in Porto, where Inter were playing in the round of 16 of the Champions League, at the height of a series of misunderstandings (and organizational disasters by the host club) which risked turning into a tragedy.

But let's rewind the tape: when I learned that the nerazzurri will have to travel to Portugal, my first attempt and that of two friends was to buy tickets in the away section. There are not many and they are almost all contracted out to Inter Clubs, of which we are not part: one of the two friends lives in Luxembourg and manages to buy the tickets directly from the Porto website (60 euros each), because there is no limitation on purchasing in the so-called neutral sectors (ie not the curves). As indeed often happens at San Siro, where opposing fans are often mixed with ours outside of the North and South (and this happened in fact in the first leg).

don't worry, we go to Porto, taking planes and accommodation, in short, in our small way, investing money. Don't worry, yes, until the afternoon, when we learn that Porto has decided that no fans of the away team will be able to go to the neutral sectors. From there, a feverish negotiation between the two clubs starts which seems to end for the best: in the end, the Interisti will be able to go to the places they regularly buy, but without wearing their team's scarves and shirts. We go to Dragao, the stadium of Porto. And immediately we see an atmosphere that doesn't convince us, not very friendly despite the reassurances, with the Italians, whatever sector they belong to, who are systematically sent into a sort of buffer anteroom between the away sector and the rest of the stadium.

Let's go too in this area and we soon understand that we will hardly be able to get out of this limbo. No one advances towards the guests, with the staircase leading to this entrance in the meantime crammed to capacity as seen in several snapshots: any inconvenience would create disaster, because there are very few escape routes. Realizing that an additional area for the Inter fans has not been foreseen, we try to go back to the entrance to take our seats, but we are told that as Italians we cannot leave the limbo zone. Italians and that's it, not Interisti, fans or whatever. In the meantime, the situation is becoming unbreathable with people increasingly crowded on those accursed stairs. At a certain point, when the game has almost begun, they allow us to try again to get in line in our sector where we had a regularly purchased ticket.

We go there, but even here, we realize, again, that something is wrong, as indeed we had sensed at the beginning: the police check the documents of the people in line, if they discover that you are Italian (Italian and that's it) they will take you and bring you back kafkaesque in the limbo from which we had fled. Furthermore, many of those tickets do not work at the turnstiles (deactivated? Technical error?): there too you are asked for your document. Italian? You can not enter. If you hide, the door attendant lets you in. Hence the idea of ​​disguising ourselves: the friend enters with a Luxembourg driving licence, I pass myself off as English and they don't ask me anything, the other as Norwegian and instead that's not enough. The Luxembourger and I will therefore be able to enter, for the second half now, the other not: sent back to that limbo again (where at least 500 Italians will remain), he decides to give up. It seems like a comedy of the fourth order, except that tragedy has been risked in that gut. Unacceptable at these levels.

March 15, 2023 (change March 15, 2023 | 18:12)

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