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  • Writer's pictureNick Neumayer

JFRC Students Encounter AS Roma With Simone

Updated: Jun 4, 2023

Pictured: Resident Directors Simone Marcologno and Jack Spittle with students at Stadio Olimpico for an AS Roma game

On February 23, JFRC students traveled to Stadio Olimpico for an AS Roma game, organized by Assistant Resident Director Simone Marcologno. For many students, this was their first experience of soccer in Italy, one that proved to be unforgettable.

“The idea was born after I did the workshop on music, culture and sport during orientation,” said Marcologno. “I love soccer and have always both played and watched it, but the emotional link that you get from a real game is completely different than the one you get watching it on tv. Starting from this idea, I decided to give some students the chance to come with us and try to immerse themselves in this cultural moment, where everyone comes together and sings and shares a passion.”

The experience began by a lottery, with Marcologno opening it up to all JFRC students. Ten names were drawn and were given the opportunity to purchase tickets in a group with a discount. This did not stop a multitude of students from purchasing additional tickets, with many students trying to sit close to Marcologno’s group or in the general vicinity of the arena.

The Giallorossi faced off against Red Bull Salzburg, an Austrian based team, in a continuation of Europa League action. Roma had fallen to Salzburg by a score of 1-0 the week prior and needed to not only win the game, but outscore Salzburg by two in order to advance further in Europa League play. The Giallorossi rose to the occasion, taking victory with a tally of 2-0, with goals by Andrea Belloti (‘33) and Paulo Dybala (‘40).

The atmosphere turned out to be brilliant for the JRFC students, with a sold-out crowd of over 60,000 people willing the Giallorossi to victory. In an experience unlike anything in America, fans were singing, chanting, and waving flags throughout the entire game. It provided an enriching experience for the students, many of whom didn’t know much about soccer beforehand.

“I grew up playing baseball but I guess I’m a soccer fan now,” said Joe Guzzo. “I don’t know many of the players but I’ll learn them for sure.”

For others, the atmosphere at Stadio Olimpico was enough to make them fall in love with the game.

“I wouldn’t consider myself a soccer fan, but I have never been more excited at a sports game,” said Adam Horwitz. “The atmosphere was absolutely incredible. The stadium was filled with fans all cheering, screaming, singing, and swearing. I have never felt more in tune with a game I barely understand, but I felt the energy of the fans flowing through me. For the first time, I felt like I was really living in Rome. No other sporting event will ever compare to how I felt at that game.”

For Marcologno, his goal was to expose students to soccer not just as a fun sporting event, but as a new way to visualize Italian culture.

“Calcio is the Italian sport culture. Some people would even say that it’s part of the foundations of Italy. Its importance is connected to the type of community moment that it creates, it brings everyone together, putting aside many of the problems of everyday life, and focusing on something else for those little hours of the day, caring only about one thing, the team. Calcio is a means of representation for many people, especially for the fact that most of the teams even represent a city, a community, a specific group of people who identifies themselves in this calcio environment.”

In nearly every country in the world, sports represent a big part of daily life. Italy is no different, as soccer not only represents a way for people to enjoy themselves, but also a way of life. The passion Italians have for sports is unmatched, especially according to Romans, who regard the “Tifosi dei Giallorossi” as some of the most passionate fans in the world.

“Everyone needs something they can relate to, they can identify themselves with,” Marcologno added. “In Italy, this something is Calcio. It is the culture, the passion, the will to go everywhere and give everything for your own team, the vulnerability you put yourself in, when crying tears of joy or sobbing together for a game, but always together.”

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