One of the many things on my bucket list was to attend a real professional soccer match in Italy, and today I am able to check it off my list. Not only did the experience go above and beyond what I could ever imagined, but it was also an experience that is hard to even put in words. In the book, The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, it gave a lot of detail about Italy’s soccer stadiums atmosphere as well as what to expect, and so going into the match I thought I was prepared; I was so very wrong. Words alone were not nearly enough to prepare myself for what I encountered. I think the only way that someone can really understand what it’s truly like, is to go experience it for themselves.
The emotion that flowed throughout the entire complex combined, is probably more than I’ve felt in my life. The stadium held up to almost 100,00 people, and while only about 10,000 people were there, it still became overwhelming at times. Just being around the fans and witnessing their emotion first hand, was enough to spark emotion in me. It was amazing to see how much soccer meant to loyal fans. The book talked about how children in Italy are born into rooting for a certain team, and during the match it was amazing to listen to children around us get so caught up in the game.
I learned that some stadiums don’t serve alcohol because it can be an accessory to violence. They also have barriers they put up between rivalry fans, and security guards on almost every other step, just to make sure fans are unable to throw things at each other, or get into fights. I also began to realize that they didn’t show any replays throughout the entire 90 minutes. I found out that they don’t show any replays in order to help protect the referee and fans from getting attacked if people didn’t like the call. We were also told that we were unable to wear any other teams jerseys at the cost of not being able to get into the match, and to ensure that we would not be harassed or attacked by fans. It blew my mind how many precautions were needed to keep everyone safe. The whole experience was truly amazing, and now I can’t wait to watch the next match where the stadium will be 10x as full, and the rivalry 10x as important.