The second part of our Golazzo special about ultras in Italy delves into exactly how much clubs got themselves involved with ultras, and the dark roads it could take them down.
One such story involved Raffaello Bucci, a Juventus ultra and part of the ‘Drughi’ group who was later given a supporter liaison role with the club but was heavily implicated in ticket touting scheme that involved the local mafia. Those tickets were allegedly supplied by the club to the ultra groups, an indication of how easily one of the biggest clubs in the world could get themselves involved in an extremely murky world.
Bucci was found dead under a bridge in Fossano, a town just south of Turin, in July 2016 of a suspected suicide, after co-operating with prosecutors who were looking into the scheme.
Club president Andrea Agnelli was given a year’s suspension from the game, later reduced to three months, for breaking ticket selling rules.
On Golazzo, James Richardson and author of the book ‘Ultra: The Underworld Of Italian Football’ Tobias Jones explained how an institution the size of Juventus got involved in such matters.
“Thanks to the incredible amount of wiretaps that this being Italy exist,” said James Richardson, “of him and people at Juventus, really right to the top, really illustrate how the ultras are indulged in return for their support, or at least keep them quiet.
“Bucci calls a guy called Alessandro D’Angelo, who was Juve’s head of security, and he tells him ‘I need some help to bring some banned material into the stadium’ and he says ‘fine, as long as you don’t cost me too big a fine.’ It’s worth it for them [the club], and the cost is not the issue: the issue is if the ultras caused trouble or decided to go on strike.
“It’s extraordinary the extent to which one the biggest clubs in Europe got themselves involved in such a murky world of ticket touting and more, with the involvement of the Calabrian mafia who had been attracted to the huge profits.”
Tobias continued: “I think the hierarchy at Juventus realised they had let the wolves in, but they didn’t know how to get them out. They were probably naive: they thought that ‘these were scallywags who occasionally get drunk and have a punch-up, and if we can keep them under wraps by slipping them a few hundred tickets we’ll be fine.’
“There was a conversation between Bucci and Angelo [about an ultra] saying “he’s one of them” – meaning he’s a mafioso. Suddenly you can see through the conversation that this guy, this security officer is thinking “heck a doodle, what have we done? What have we let in?”
“There are conspiracy theories…and I don’t really believe the Juventus hierarchy were [directing the ultras], but conspiracy theorists think these groups were often useful. They were the foot soldiers, the shock troops of the club, if you like.”
This is from part two of our two-part special on ultras – part one is here.You can subscribe to Golazzo here. If you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article or from the podcast you are very welcome to, but please credit The Totally Football Show and include this link.