If you saw the headline above; ‘Mass Fans Boycott Due To Lack Of Player Investment and Selling Star Midfielder’ , then you could be forgiven to think it was something close to home you were talking about, especially with the club concerned currently eighth in the league table.
However, this is Serie A and not the Premier League, it is Lazio and not Newcastle, it is Claudio Lotito and not Mike Ashley.
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On Sunday, Lazio fans carried out an amazing boycott of their home match against Atalanta.
Despite the official attendance being given as 33,000 the Stadio Olimpico was almost deserted (the image below a fair reflection of the ‘crowd’ overall) after supporters targeted this match to show their displeasure at Lotito’s running of the club.
The fan anger stems from a perceived lack of investment in the team and this was then made so much worse when Lotito sold star midfielder/playmaker to Inter Milan.
The fact Lazio are in a seemingly ok league position of eighth makes no difference to Lazio fans who see a total lack of ambition and investment in the team, supporters believing that their club should be aiming to compete and not cash in on their best players.
While Newcastle bought no new players in the last year, Lazio had at least invested some money -£17m, over the last 12 months but that hasn’t stemmed the fury of how they see their club being run.
The Lazio supporters had earlier boycotted the first fifteen minutes of a home game in September and when star playmaker Hernanes was sold in January, it led to a protest march before the home game against Sassuolo, with an estimated forty thousand fans taking part.
The current Lazio manager Edoardo Reja said after yesterday’s 1-0 defeat to Atalanta;
“It is a real shame to see the Olimpico deserted, we were in with a chance of achieveing something but it is difficult to play in those conditions.
“This situation cannot go on – it is a disadvantage for us as we have seen today.”
Even the handful of fans who did turn up, did so only to display protest banners which included messages ‘Lazio is ours and we will leave it to our children’ and ‘It is him or us’.
On the surface at least, the comparisons between the Newcastle and Lazio situations are overwhelming and many will wonder at the different responses of the two sets of fans.
A lot of it I believe is cultural with fans very politically minded over in Italy, whereas in England most of us see football as a chance to have a rest from subjects such as politics.
However, I’ve a feeling that the impact of Newcastle fans’ quieter revolution will soon also become more visible/apparent at the end of this season, with thousands of fans having already cancelled direct debits for next year’s season ticket, and many more to follow when their renewals are up at the end of this season.
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