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Forza Roma!

Sam Stryker | Sunday, September 25, 2011

Italy may be home to the Vatican, the center of the Catholic Church, but the Italians’ true religion is soccer, or “il calcio.” The nation has captured four World Cup titles, including its most recent in 2006. This ranks them second only to Brazil in winning the most world championships. Teams in Italy’s club league, Serie A, have claimed 27 major European championships, making the nation the most successful on the continent in terms of the professional sport.

Thursday night, I, along with several other Notre Dame students, made the trek to Stadio Olimpico. The athletic monument is home to A.S. Roma, one of Rome’s two club teams. The stadium, which seats over 72,000 spectators, played host to a match between “i Lupi” (the wolves, A. S. Roma’s nickname) and Siena.

Though we were able to identify with several aspects of the stadium experience, the soccer match was unlike anything we’ve seen at a Fighting Irish football game. We especially enjoyed the thundering rendition of “Roma, Roma, Roma,” that fans chanted before the match, similar to the alma mater Notre Dame students sing after football games.

Some aspects of experience were a little more foreign to us. Despite an overwhelming police presence, fans participated in some behavior that would never be tolerated at Notre Dame Stadium — flares were lit, smoke pellets went off and huge flags and banners were flown in certain sections the whole game.

Overall, we had an amazing experience cheering on “i Lupi,” even though the game ended in a 1-1 tie, and came away with a new appreciation for the security at Notre Dame Stadium!