Words: Livio Caferoglu
The 2000-01 season will go down as one of Inter’s worst in recent memory. Out of the Champions League at the qualifying stage, thrashed 6-0 by city rivals Milan and finishing almost 25 points behind Scudetto winners Roma in fifth place, the nadir of the Nerazzurri’s negative campaign came at San Siro on May 6, when they hosted Atalanta.
Inter fans had already been warned about their behaviour that season. Just three weeks earlier, they launched fireworks and smoke bombs towards Juventus supporters during their side’s 3-1 defeat at the Delle Alpi, costing the Beneamata a fine. A month before that, they were ordered to play two European games away from San Siro after their own tifosi caused a UEFA Cup tie to be abandoned.
The Milanese club sat just a point and a place behind Atalanta, who were occupying the final UEFA Cup spot at the time. Despite that, they made easy work of La Dea, Christian Vieri’s brace and an Alvaro Recoba strike securing a 3-0 win. Yet that wasn’t enough of a response for Inter’s ultras, who waited until just before the final whistle to perform the ultimate act of stupidity.
A scooter suddenly appeared in the Curva Nord section of the San Siro, although how it got to be there in the first place remains shrouded in mystery. One popular theory is that it was left behind by an Atalanta ultras leader after police broke up a brawl between both sets of supporters outside the ground and then smuggled in to use as some sort of sick choreography.
What can’t be disputed, however, is that four Inter fans foolishly set the bike on fire. That was more than odd enough to be remembered. It sat smouldering on the terrace, charred, but fortunately for a vehicle that was powered by petrol, not exploding. It still wasn’t enough for this group of geniuses. Screaming rang out as they threw it over the gate into the seats below. Not ergonomically designed to be flung from a great height, the scooter bounced wildly off seats, spinning and changing direction at random, almost injuring their fellow supporters as they scattered in panic. Luckily, police intervened just in time to foil their next – and potentially fatal – move of hurling the scooter over a much higher balcony. This, all happening with their team coasting to a 3-0 victory.
In the last quarter of an hour, the gates had been opened to allow those in the stadium to leave early, with the contest having long been over. The four Inter fans would have then taken advantage of the situation to push the scooter on to the ramp that led to the second ring of the Curva Nord. Despite that, the stunt was seemingly planned before kick-off, from the moment the vehicle was stolen from an Atalanta supporter.
Inter were ordered to play two Serie A home matches on neutral turf and the four ‘fans’ in question were banned for life. Yet more trouble ensued just a week later as the Nerazzurri were beaten 6-0 by Milan, which saw one of their own supporters confront rival player Alessandro Costacurta on the pitch and a large group of them clash with police, resulting in two being arrested and a third taken to hospital.
A sorry end to a sorry season, even if the scooter in question was a Booster and not a Vespa, contrary to popular belief.