Bologna President Joey Saputo condemned death threats against his directors. “I never imagined this could happen in a city like Bologna.”
The Rossoblu come from a string of very poor results, but their crisis took a worrying turn when CEO Claudio Fenucci, sporting director Riccardo Bigon and scout Marco Di Vaio became the objects of death threats.
Three crosses bearing the names of the Bologna directors were laid down at the gates of the club's training ground in Casteldebole.
The episode received widespread attention in the media, and President Saputo decided to respond directly, publishing an extensive statement on the club's official site.
"First of all, I'd like to thank the people of Bologna, the organised groups as well as the individual tifosi, who spoke out and publicly condemned the sham we witnessed yesterday at the gates of Casteldebole," read Saputo's statement.
"Claudio Fenucci, Riccardo Bigon and Marco Di Vaio are good people who enjoy my unqualified professional respect. I would like to extend to them my personal solidarity.
"Yet the gravity of what happened remains. I never imagined that something of the sort could happen in a city like Bologna. I can in no way connect what happened with the genuine passion of the true Rossoblu fans.
"I cannot conceive, nor ever will conceive, that a sport meant to bring together people in collective enjoyment should become the reason to threaten three people.
"Three people who have been, I may add, on the receiving end of all sorts of insults for months, through social media or by way of messages sent by radio and TV, because this season the team is not attaining the results we hoped for.
"Now a line has been crossed and everyone rightly condemns the act. And yet, I believe that this disgusting episode should be an opportunity for a deep reflection: it is unacceptable that football should be used as a pretext to vent the most base of all instincts, which are often – and until the situation degenerates, like it just did – tolerated or even stoked by certain commentators who have an indiscriminate access to endless new media, now more than ever, and without the slightest semblance of genuine editorial responsibility.
"I came to Bologna four years ago, and immediately invested more than €50m to save and rebuild the club. It is a long and difficult job which we began and are carrying through with ongoing, major investments of capital. We are ready to present to the city a redevelopment project that will turn the Dall'Ara into a state-of-the-art stadium.
"We know better than anyone that the results on the pitch are not satisfactory right now, but we have always been clear: reaching a position where it is no longer necessary to fight against the threat of relegation will take time, and an organic process of growth that will involve the club from its foundations upwards.
"I am sorry to remark that such a program, which in my opinion represents the only viable path for a club like ours, should be greeted by this mood of perennial dissatisfaction."