Since the introduction of the fan ID card called Tessera del Tifosi in Italy in the 2010/2011 season, numerous fans have reported that attendances have dropped significantly whilst problems with violence, which are supposed to be tackled with the introduction of the fan ID card, remain. AS Roma fans organized in the MyRoma Supporters Trust which is also an FSE member, now managed to convince their club management to sell this year’s season tickets without the fan ID card. However, the Italian authorities weren’t happy when they heard that....
MyRoma, the AS Roma Supporters’ Trust, has led a campaign against the fans’ ID card, the Tessera del Tifoso, for quite some time, highlighting the many unpopular aspects of the card and putting forward alternate proposals which would nonetheless consider the legislative measures in place to combat violence. AS Roma’s new management has shown itself willing to enter a dialogue with MyRoma and to listen to the criticism alternative proposals. On 15 July, AS Roma announced that for the 2011/12 season it would be possible to purchase season tickets without signing up to the Tessera.
Legal experts doubt that the implementation scheme of the Tessera del Tifoso is legally binding anyway since it apparently hasn’t been adopted by the Italian parliament, yet, but was merely announced by ministerial “protocol”. Hence, there doesn’t seem to be a legal obligation to enforce a mandatory link between the Tessera and season tickets either. AS Roma declared that the significant drop in the number of season ticket holders in the 2010-11 season, due to the unpopularity of the Tessera, had encouraged them to find a new solution to the problem since they have been suffering financially.
Roma’s announcement was greeted with delight by MyRoma and many fans across Italy. However the national advisory body on sporting events, the Osservatorio Nazionale sulle Manifestazioni Sportive, issued a declaration on 18 July reminding the club that the national league had signed up to an agreement which includes the mandatory use of the Tessera. They later declared that Roma’s initiative was “certainly valid for the future” but that it could not be activated at present since “it necessitates further investigation and consultation with representatives of all the football clubs – many of whom have made an appreciable effort this year to promote their respective loyalty schemes”. In fact other clubs like Cagliari, Taranto and Padova have also tried to respond to fans’ concerns with alternatives to the Tessera but they too have faced obstruction from the authorities.
Season ticket sales without the Tessera at AS Roma have now been suspended – it remains to be seen whether club and authorities can negotiate a mutually acceptable solution. We keep you posted!
Riccardo Bertolin, a member of MyRoma Supporters Trust and the FSE Committee, concludes as follows:
“MyRoma’s proposal satisfies all of Italy's security requirements. Since, officially, the Tessera has been imposed in order to end football violence, it is hard to see on what legitimate grounds our solution could now be opposed. If the authorities continue to insist on the Tessera, the suspicion that economic interests play a vital part in the scheme would become inescapable.
“In fact the refusal to allow AS Roma to sell their season tickets according to whatever system they choose, within the law, is an illegal restraint of trade. Given the steady decline in Italian football attendance figures in recent years, it is to be hoped that fans’ interests can for once be taken seriously.”
Some background on the Tessera del Tifoso
In 2009 the Italian Interior Minister Maroni introduced the idea of a supporters' ID card known as the Tessera del Tifoso. Compulsory since the 2010/11 season for away tickets and season tickets, the card issues some sort of ‘official’ fan status for a specific team after police checks have been passed. Also, the card serves as a payment card for a specific bank via which tickets can be bought.
The scheme attracted criticism from fans groups, ultras and consumer protection agencies as well as many within football and in the political world in Italy. The fact that the card is also a payment card with a points collection scheme was seen as a sign that the scheme aimed at profit for banks and clubs rather than in any way reflecting fans’ true interests or contributing to the prevention of violence in football.
The national institution responsible for monitoring data protection even suggested that the Tessera could represent a serious risk to individuals’ privacy due to the extensive sharing of the data stored on the card between police, banks, football clubs and other private institutions as well as through the micro-chip in each card. Since the card was introduced, many fans have been reporting that attendance figures in Italian football have dropped significantly.