-Guest post by Federico Farcomeni
The President of the Serie A and owner of Lazio Claudio Lotito sparked a scandal in February after telling SS Ischia Isola Verde director Pino Iodice, that “If Carpi are promoted we won’t have a penny”. Lotito’s argument was widely based on the club’s poor fan base, which would all but boost the figures in terms of the League's TV revenues. What the Lazio president did not consider though was that football is made of fairy-tales stories. After Carpi drew 0-0 with Bari, they became the 65th club to play in Italy’s Serie A. Going bankrupt in 2002, Carpi’s unexpected rise to the summit of the football pyramid shows that money isn’t everything.
Strolling through the “sleepy hollow-esque” Carpi after 10pm at the beginning of the season, one might have been tempted to agree with Lotito. Locals were reluctant to the idea of football being played on a Saturday afternoon, having streets closed to traffic and the inevitable hysteria, uncommon for such a tranquil Emilian town. However as Carpi managed to draw against Bari on Tuesday night the party erupted. A giant flag with an “A” on it was displayed in the Curva Nord, whilst a banner next to it said “Alla Faccia di Lotito”, “in Lotito’s face.”
Carpi achieved their dream thanks to a very limited budget, a total of 3 million euros wage bill for the full squad. They only first qualified professional football in 2011, reaching the Serie B two years later. The Carpi-based clothing retailer, Gaudì, and director of football Cristiano Giuntoli have done things the right way and they are now ready to cash in with TV revenues and in the transfer market.
One might expect a fierce encounter when Lazio visit next season. However, as soon as Lotito’s words came out, Lazio supporters started to show sympathy for the Carpi’s cause. Banners began to appear in the Curva Nord reading, “we are all with you, guys” or “don’t bother him, Lotito è un infame!” (Lotito is a villain). Carpi’s ultra leading group, Irriducibili (founded in 1983) have widely inspired themselves to their Lazio counterparts in terms of graphics, style, visual merchandising and, in some cases, politics. As some posts on their official Facebook page show – IrriDUX, the Clockwork Orange silhouettes which have been made famous in the ultras world by the right wing Drughi at Juve and the picture of a banner which honours the martyrs of the Foibe massacres in the 1940s.
Carpi’s ultras have already started a campaign to keep Carpi in Carpi for the next season in Serie A. Their 87-year old stadium Sandro Cabassi – located in Karl Marx street and cheekily nicknamed “foil stadium” by their ultras – would be upgraded from the actual 4,200 (which aren’t good for Serie B standards either) to 10,000 capacity. As Carpi go away to Modena next weekend they have the chance to relegate their long time rivals. While next season, we can all look forward to a new local derby when Carpi face fellow Serie A minnows Sassuolo.
In Lotito's face.