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Greece: A difficult situation for fans of Panathinaikos.
A few years ago there was a great optimistic among Gate 13, the fans of Panathinaikos. The club from the Greek capital Athens decided to move back home to their old stadium Apostolos Nikolaidis and play their matches there. Fans responded with amazing choreo’s and top support in the following football matches. This year, when the club celebrates 110 years, the situation is totally different. In June last year, the president of Panathinaikos FC left the club. He invested millions of euros into the club, trying to make them survive, but didn’t receive the results he wanted.A few days ago UEFA announced Panathinaikos risks a ban from any UEFA competitions due to unpaid debts.At the moment the club is twelfth spot out of 16 teams in the Greek top divisions. If the club goes bankrupt, they might end up as AEK Athens back in 2012 when they started up again in the Greek 3rd division.
Due to the terrible situation and frustration, Gate 13 didn’t gather at the football matches for some time. Last weekend they showed up at the stadium just to displayed several banners. No big party for the 110th anniversary….
“Panathinaikos exists 110 years and will exist till the end of the world!You loved him since you where a child,and you will love him since your last day. Do not turn your back because some hurt him,do not lose your loyalty. Stay next to him and the shamrock will blossom again as always.☘ Happy birthday to us”
This text is translate of great interview that Claudio “Il Bocia” Galimberti (leader of Curva Nord Atalanta) gave to Bergamo local TV station in year 2009, after he got 5 years ban. Repression in Italy since then get even worst, you can read more about it here.
> Curva Nord is closed!? This news has been published in several daily newspapers in the country. What can you say about that?
We never published any official announcement in which we stated that the Curva Nord is going to be closed. In the past, we have published announcements, but the newspapers never dealt with that. At the meeting we held, it was decided that we will go back to our roots, and that supporting will be more spontaneous and left to individuals, but we never, at any moment thought of closing. It’s proven that when it comes to a minimal incident with the police, the same people always get hurt, and those people are the ones that are leading our Curva.
> So, what you’re saying is that Curva Nord is not closing?
There were 500 people at the meeting. It’s possible that someone differently interpreted our decision and thought that we are going to stop going to Atalanta matches. We are not an ad.hoc organization so we’d just give up our stands. We have years and years of struggle for our rights behind us, we’ve managed to get through all kinds of problems, but from time to time they left us to solve them alone, and we were in good terms with everyone. During the last three years we were held responsible for every trifle in relation to Atalanta. We cannot go on like this, we are always in center of attention. It’s not OK that the police harasses us because someone who wore Atalanta scarf did something stupid that can’t really be connected with us.
In relation to the club, in what terms are you with the management?
We would like to see management meet our requirements in certain things like Pozzo in Udineze does. We can’t do everything alone. They’re talking about Atalanta, but their only thinking about their own pockets. Only people with lot of money go to the stadium, tickets are too expensive. People need to wake up and to go to streets, because this crosses every line.
Tell me one positive and one negative thing that you would erase from these ten and more years that you spent on the north?
There were numerous positive things, but one of the most beautiful was when there were 900 of us in Siena and when we already knew that we’re falling to the Seria B. We rooted like we are running for Uefa Cup, it was unbelievable. Everyone envied us for that, because they felt the kind of connectedness and loyalty we have in relation to our colors. Also, the applause for Roma and Cassano score which pushed us into the league 2 was a very emotional moment, that’s when the president Ruggeri should’ve realized what’s hiding behind the name Atalanta. What is all of that that only we have.
Did you get support from Brescia fans?
4 years ago they dedicated a slogan to me “: “Nemico leale, Boci non mollare!” (Boci resist it, our loyal enemy!) It was for similar kind of punishment. Those are all things that are really dear to me, and they will remain in my memory, because they mean that all of that I did was worthwhile. I’ve also made mistakes, I’m not saying I haven’t, but he who’s without sin, let him throw the first stone.
That means you want visibility for the positive things that are related to supporting.
We only want the loyalty to exist, among reporters and all of the critics. We always went to courts, we were always here when we were invited and we took the responsibility for our own actions…always! There are people who are writing about us, who are condemning us, but they are hiding and cannot say what they think of us to our face. We are only speaking from our hearts, we don’t have some kind of secret agendas, we are not making even one Euro, because we were never interested in that. The one who makes the mess, knows he’s going to pay for it. There were 500 guys at the meeting on Tuesday, and no one wanted for us to close, but also, no one can take the responsibility for all of this anymore. The stands are the most important, but who really owns them now?
When was the last time you’ve visited a Ferencvaros game int he NB1 (Hungarian League)?
– About 3 years and a half year ago, in the Puskas Stadium (old stadium).
What did happen after that?
– When the new stadium was finished, they made mandatory the vein scanner system. We had the feeling we’ve been left out from this decision meanwhile we had discussion about every other topics. The rest is history.
So you did not have problem especially with the scanning system but you did not like that the club left out ultras from this discussion?
– That was the last drop in the glass. We did not agree with many decisions of the club but we were thinking these issues could be solved by discussion. However the scanning system was not that category.
What did take 3 and half years long?
– Both sides had to see we need common things which are acceptable for the club and fans too. I’ve been thinking in a 5 years period so it ended before I expected.
What was the worst period/moment?
– Celebration of the Championship winning, when we dominated the league. It took many years to win the championship again but we couldn’t celebrate with the team together. It really hurt me I’ve felt like a piece of my heart was lost.
One Championship title, one second, one third place and three Cup winning was missed.
– Not a good feeling to hear that, I hope we can forget that time very soon.
How much could you like the championship winning team?
– We never loved Ferencvaros because of the players, we love the club and the players are part of it.
What was the turning point which let you come back to the stadium?
– It was March or April when the last phase of discussion started. I couldn’t mention one moment. 3 and half years made this happen.
At least one moment could be mentioned.
– It was important that we could discuss with the president of FTC, Mr. Kubatov and not the acting director, Mr. Nyíri.
Who did open first for the other party?
– After a while both sides found the other one. It wasn’t like that one side did not want to discuss meanwhile the other one always were looking for discussion.
Parts of the return agreement:
- Scanning is not mandatory in ultras’ sector (called ’Sector B’ in Hungary), only for 500 people.
- There are two type of cards. Normal card with scanning and B Category Card for ultras sectors. For B Category Cards your picture and datas are required only scanning optional.
- Any conflict, revenge or violence against normal card users forbidden.
- Both sides against any violence inside the stadium.
- According the agreement the stadium rules has been modified by the recommendations of ultras!
- New rules include the new type of category and penalties for actions against the rules.
- Ultras are represented in the council which oversee the bans and has the right to appeal against decisions.
- Management accepted that they can choose an own mascot for Sector B (there was a huge scandal when management changed the mascot of the club).
- Leaders of ultras and management of the club meets at least 4 times a year.
Can you mention anybody who insulted(hurt?) the ultras?
– I wouldn’t say hurt us. It hurt more that we did not have any active players who would stand for us and would say that ultras are missing from the stadium.
What is behind that?
– If I would looking for reasons we would have to speak about issues with the management again. We have to move on this issue.
How do you prepare for the return?
– I can not speak about details but I can tell you it will be huge. Worthy for Ferencvaros ultras!
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