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Totti Today: Serie A Fans Rooting Against Each Other in Europe, Bruno Peres’ Farewell and More

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It turns out the worst insult you can call a fellow Italian football fan is a “night owl”. Who knew?

AS Roma v Ajax - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Leg Two Photo by Tullio Puglia - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

I wake up.
Stare at the ceiling.
I’m alive: What a beautiful feeling.
- 50 Cent

I’m not sure how we got here, but here we are: Roma reaches only the 7th European semi-final in the club’s history. And isn’t everyone just thrilled about it? Apparently not. Aside from the tactics boffins who’ll insist this isn’t the way to win games, there are the calcio fans who live for the schadenfreude of their fellow Serie A rivals in Europe. But who am I to judge?

I can’t say I’ve rooted for the loss of a Serie A team (I actually have soft spots for Inter, AC, and Juventus teams of many eras gone by), but I’ll wake up with a smile from ear to ear anytime Barcelona falls flat on their face. But it was the specific sub-culture of Italian fans rooting against one another that become the short-lived hot topic of last night after Ruggiero Rizzitelli once again went viral with his post-match rant on Roma TV.

The Gufi, Gufare and the Art of the Gufaggio

Who knew that “to owl” your way through a football match is an insult? I learned something new after Ruggiero Rizzitelli went viral last night, for calling out Lazio fans (and all fans who were rooting against Roma around the peninsula) with his post-match reaction:

“Before analysing [the game], I would like to talk from my gut as a football fan. And so I say: Did we suffer? Yes. But what a moment to enjoy, what satisfaction. And I say to all the gufi out there: You can stay on the d*ck. And I say that from the heart. Now let’s analyse the game...”

I’ve gotta admit, this flew right over my head at the time. Aside from getting immediate laughs around the studio and re-tweets online for the language used, why was Rizzitelli calling everyone a bunch of owls? Leave it to a Lazio fansite—Millenovecentoto explain how the term “gufaggio” (read: schadenfreude) first came into Italian football colloquialism:

“The night owl, in sporting and footballing terms, is the fan who watches a game not to support either team, but deliberately cheer against a team. And we Laziali, from the 1980s onwards, partly due to not having anything else to do because our team gave us so little satisfaction at the time and partly out of survival instinct, specialised in the ‘gufatoria’ arts.

It was almost a form of self-defence, not having any great alternatives in that time, in the moments of struggling to survive, we started to hope for other teams’ disgrace. And it has to be said, we managed to get some discreet success in this noble art. But now something strange is happening in our Lazio house, for a few years now.

The night owl no longer is that fan who roots against another team, but the term has even spread to cover the fan roots against Lazio. We’ve become successful again, and we see internal divisions where people who criticise Lazio are called night owls by those who feel, in their opinion, that those critics are busy night owling.”

In short, what goes around comes around. When you grow up and start seeing your footballing idols through adult eyes, and when the trophies or winning games start running dry, it’s hard to justify your time spent watching football. Think of all the years sunk into it, and it’s easier to just pick a rival team to hate on instead. It helps pass the time. But then your team starts having a successful season once more, and the blanket term “haters” starts to become so ubiquitous that it loses meaning.

Everyone has been at it in recent years, crying “gufi” against rival fans who refuse to support their team’s success in Europe. Juventus are naturally at the top of that list, with Gigi Buffon most recently saying he was happy not to live the life of a “gufo” who was “doing cartwheels after [Juventus lost the 2017 Champions League final to Real Madrid] in Cardiff.”

Then there’s Atalanta, whose fanbase is virtually hated by everyone around the peninsula, despite the fairytale success of their “young academy come good” storyline on the pitch. And now apparently it’s Roma’s turn to adopt that siege mentality, as the last remaining Serie A team in Europe for the 2020-21 season. Are these divisions really specific to Italian football, though? Or doesn’t this happen in every country’s top-flight league?

Has Bruno Peres Signed for Trabzonspor?

Bruno Peres has made it known he was open to a contract extension for several months, but it appears the Brazilian wide player has finally lost patience and moved onto the next step in his career. According to a report from Il Tempo (via Goal.com), Peres has signed to play for Trabzonspor from next season and will leave on a free transfer once his Roma contract expires this summer.

Peres may have played well under Fonseca, but Roma (like every other club) are losing money. And if you’ve ever had to call up a financial advisor when you’re wallet has been looking slim for months and you finally admit you have a problem, the first advice you’ll get is to cut your immediate, non-essential expenses.

Roma have two starting full-backs in Rick Karsdorp (who’s in incredible form both offensively and defensively lately) and Leonardo Spinazzola, while also managing the headache of how to get two young full-backs Bryan Reynolds and Riccardo Calafiori some legitimate game time. It’s a blessing and a curse that Reynolds and Calafiori happen to both be rated highly by the biggest clubs around world football, so Bruno Peres was never going to figure his way into any of this.

Hopefully, we’ll have a more fitting summary of Peres’ time at the club this summer, since he deserves it. For now, we’ll just have to call on our tribute to him last season.

News Around Town: Smalling Robbed at His Home, Perrotta Loses His Mother, De Rossi Gets A Mural

AS Roma v Genoa CFC - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Some very brief news around town, as Chris Smalling’s season goes from bad to worse. The Italian authorities got the emergency call from the Smalling household at 4.55 am this morning after the Roma defender and his family were woken up from their sleep and held at gunpoint by several armed robbers. The robbers forced Smalling to open up the household safe, and they subsequently walked away with gold jewelry and several Rolex watches. The main report comes from the Gazzetta dello Sport.

It was a grim week for former Roma midfielder and World Cup winner Simone Perrotta, too. Perrotta announced the death of his mother via Instagram, where the midfielder summed up his immediate feelings: “You think you’re ready for something like this but you’re never prepared enough” and lamenting that his mother has “gone too soon.”

One former Roma player who is turning things around is Daniele De Rossi, whose recovery from a bad spell of Covid-19 infection continues after being hospitalized in the middle of Rome. For his encouragement, local street artist Laika took to the walls of the neighborhood where De Rossi currently resides to make a new mural of DDR.