Words: Martin Mork
Behind the firecrackers and flares at the Festa della Dea on July 14, 2013, a tank appeared and on board stood 32-year-old Giulio Migliaccio, introduced to the people of Bergamo just three days after his move from Palermo. An outlandish presentation, but it spilled over into the realm of the unacceptable when the tank rolled over two cars painted with the symbols of bitter rivals Brescia and Roma.
Atalanta weren’t always the neutrals’ favourite they are today, with their all-attack style of football, intelligent behind the scenes management and beloved fans. They had a real reputation as scrappers, fighting against relegation and above all against other fans, with a vicious rivalry against both Roma and their local neighbours Brescia. Long before the Champions League, these were seasons when beating one of those two represented a successful campaign.
The decision to aim the tank at cars painted in Brescia and Roma colours for a ritual squishing caused controversy only three days into his stint with the Dea and the FIGC had to open a disciplinary investigation against the club and the player.
Migliaccio, who had spent the previous season on loan at Fiorentina, was invited to board a tank that was a traditional attendee at the festival, but claimed he did not expect what was about to happen next.
“I was inadvertently the protagonist,” Magliaccio told the club’s website after the incident. “In a party atmosphere, in a huge crowd of fans, including lots of women and children, I was invited on board a tank which has been going around for years at the Festa della Dea, parading players and staff to salute the people.
“I certainly could not have imagined that, at a certain point, we would have crushed two cars taken from the scrap yard. I only realised when we were already going over them and, since I could not see from the back, I did not know they had the symbols of two football clubs on them.”
Migliaccio apologised for taking part and claimed his record on the football pitch proved that it was not something that portrayed his character.
“I’m very sorry about the incident. You just have to look at my not-so-brief career as a footballer to see that I have always been instilled with the values of the sport and with the utmost correctness on the pitch.
“So much that I’ve only received one red card, for two yellows, in almost 500 games as a professional player.”
But the FIGC’s Disciplinary Commission put their foot down and handed the Atalanta midfielder a fine of €17,000 for participating in the ‘behaviour strongly in contrast to the values of sport and threatening to create a climate of tension between the clubs’ fans’.
The club was also fined €17,000 for the incident, but the midfielder appeared 19 times in Serie A the following season and continued with the Dea until he retired after the 2016-17 season.
Migliaccio scored six goals in the Nerazzurri shirt and was eventually sent of for the second time in the 2015-16 season, with a direct red in a 3-0 win against his former club Palermo.
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