Social media is great on a number of levels, but unfortunately, it also gives a voice to the worst members of society.
Trolls, who most likely wouldn’t find anyone of a like mind outside of a jail cell, spew their bile in the hope that someone slips and lands on it.
So it is after two Celtic fans were stabbed by Lazio ultras last night. Unfortunately, it’s something that was always highly possible.
Not because of the actions of anyone in the fixture at Celtic Park, but because that’s what some of these Roman ultras seem to think makes them tough guys… unprovoked armed attacks on people visiting their famous city and take in a football game.
Celtic fans had faced warnings of potential violence with some media commentators pointing the finger in advance after banners at the home game.
This victim-blaming ignores the reputation of ultras in Rome, where doing nothing at all to ‘provoke’ anyone will still see people being knifed.
The people responsible for the blade attacks are the cowards who perpetrate the crime. No one else.
That mainstream media narrative, however, has helped fuel the dregs of society as they revel in the attacks online.
Many Rangers fans, in particular, seem to be enjoying the news, repeating the assertion that the club and Green Brigade would have ‘blood on their hands’ because of banners hitting out at Lazio ultras, and their racist, fascist politics, two weeks ago.
Personally, I’d argue that the Brigate Verde banner was ill-judged. That, however, doesn’t mitigate or justify any attacks. The reality is that such an attack, just as the Ajax attack on a bar in Amsterdam, would happen regardless of any ‘provocation’ because that’s what these thugs do.
Lazio fans and their city rivals Roma have a history of picking up vulnerable supporters on their own and knifing them. Roma in 1984 saw a bloodbath as Liverpool supporters were attacked.
The Independent reports on the reaction from the following morning being one of “immense embarrassment”.
They wrote: “La Republica headlined, ‘Manhunt against the English,’ Il Corriere dello Sport reported, ‘The aftermath of the match brought a night of vile, blind violence that disappointment cannot justify,’ and Il Tiempo said, ‘This could have been an occasion to demonstrate civility. Instead, the usual group of fans with knives, bottles and sticks went on an odious manhunt.’”
Such attacks on ‘soft targets’ is the reason why Celtic fans were advised not to wander around on their own.
In 2012, dozens of thugs attacked Spurs fans ahead of a Lazio game in an unprovoked attacked that left fans of the London club stabbed.
The Guardian report reads: “The supporters were drinking in the Drunken Ship pub in the historic Campo de Fiori at 1am on Thursday morning when up to 50 attackers – wearing motorcycle helmets and brandishing weapons including knuckle-dusters, broken bottles, and baseball bats – smashed their way in.”
In another horrific episode, dozens of Roma ultras launched an unprovoked, pre-planned attack on Liverpool fans outside Anfield last year.
One fan, Sean Cox, was left with a “profound” brain injury following the attack by the Roma ultras, who went at Liverpool fans milling around in the street ahead of the game.
This is the type of cowardly assault that the morons who have taken to Twitter are defending. Even though the likelihood is that, should their club ever be drawn to face Lazio or Roma, there’s a chance their own supporters would be on the receiving end.
The people who perpetrate these attacks are cowardly scum. The people who rush to defend them are cut from the same cloth.
Still, it’s a strange thing to watch so many people who see themselves as the standard-bearers for true British values rush to the defence of the neo-Nazi thugs who marched through Glasgow city centre making fascist salutes only two weeks ago.
And, not just that, but react to the violence with unashamed glee.
More Oswald Mosely Britishness than anything else. Those honoured in their annual poppy tifo would be impressed.