The Olympic Stadium of Torino...and icy rain

It was only about ten minutes into the second half of the Jueventus soccer match against Udinese when, all of a sudden, Juventus scored a goal! One of the players did a complete backflip and, with a thunderous rainbow kick, rocketed the ball into the net. With this, the relatively quiet stadium exploded into one of the wildest celebrations I’ve ever seen. People yelled, sang, or did both. Sirens blared and the announcer went berserk yelling electrifying statements into his microphone.

Ever since I signed the dotted line to study abroad in Italy I knew I needed to go to a soccer match during my time here. I had heard all the stories of fanatical football fans and the craziness of the matches, but I don’t think I really had any idea. Nothing you hear in America accurately portrays how crazy they are! Europeans really, really love their football.

My first clue to how misinformed I was came in the form of police in full body armor and equipped with riot shields. Brandon and I both laughed and said “that must just be for show. No way its that wild.” Boy, were we ever wrong.

Things seemed calm until the game started. We were in the middle part of the oval stadium where things were pretty subdued. But the ends of the arena, where the curves of the oval are, were completely nuts. As soon as the game began the fans there began singing fight songs that lasted the entire match, no breaks, the ENTIRE time. In fact, when something exciting happened the singers would almost double in volume as some sang while others directed choice words the referee’s way. They also had massive flags that they fanatically waved the whole match. My arms would have been ready to fall off after ten minutes of waving those canopies around, but these guys somehow did it for over two hours.

But the craziest part was the open flames in the stands. I kid you not, the fans used flares that made a bang like a cannon to start “controlled” fires in the back of the bleachers. At random parts of the game deafening booms made

Me in my newly purchased Juventus scarf

Brandon and I jump ten feet in the air. These mini explosions didn’t coincide with any of the games action, just whenever the blazes ran low. The police didn’t even react to this, they just sat by and watched as though this was completely safe and normal.

And, of course, there was almost a brawl in the stands. When Udinese began pulling away on the scoreboard, their fans began directing taunts to the Juventus followers. In retaliation, the Juventus supporters began clambering over the bulletproof class partitions that divvy up the stadium into sections, to attack the Udinese devotees. This is when the police came to life as about thirty fully armored officers began appearing from out of nowhere to suppress the budding riot.

Meanwhile, in the middle, things were fairly low key. Everyone sat under the awning, out of the rain, and watched the match. During slow parts, a lot of people would go and find the “no smoking” signs so they could stand underneath them and puff on their cigs as they chit chatted about the game. On a side note, I’ve discovered this is a very Italian thing to do. Non-smokers are in the minority here, and all the smokers are inexplicably drawn to smoke underneath non-smoking signs. Everywhere you go, you find this phenomenon. I think its pretty comical, and I wonder if the people who hang these signs ever use reverse psychology by putting the signs where its ok to smoke instead of the off limits areas.

This laid back attitude didn’t last too long though. Whenever there is a score, the stadium literally erupted. Brandon and I were completely submerged in a sea of screaming and hand waving Italians. Everyone in the stadium would leap out of their seats, or run from under the signs, and begin yelling, hugging, kissing, jumping, and running to the field. Some cases even included crying. When there was a bad call, this commotion still ensued, though the diction and hand gestures carried a slightly different meaning behind them.

I loved this though. It was so loud no one could even hear themselves yelling, which gave me a chance to pretend I actually am Italian. I would jump up and over react with them and begin stringing together the random Italian words I know and pulsating my hands wildly. No one else could actually here what I was saying, so why not? It was definitely fun. I wish American sporting events were more like that!