Feature Photo: Lapresse
We are used to hear from the media that football ultras are violent and without any social culture. But right before last Saturday’s Derby dell’Emilia SPAL-Bologna at Paolo Mazza Stadium, they impressed the world of calcio with an amazing choreography: Spallini supporters showed how football can be Art as well!
This choreography was inspired by the legend of Saint George and the Dragon, as depicted in a famous painting by Paolo Uccello from 1470, during the Italian Renaissance. Back then, the city of Ferrara was administered by the powerful Estensi family, and was the center of a prosperous Ducato (Duchy). Saint George was, and still is, the patron saint of the city. Today, Paolo Uccello’s painting is on display in the National Gallery of London.
The Saint George and the Dragon legend describes the saint taming and slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices. On the right of the painting, the Saint is spearing the beast, whereas on the left, the princess chosen as the next offering is using her belt as a leash to take it up to the town. The eye in the storm gathering on the right of Saint George is lined up with his spear, showing that some divine intervention helped him killing the dragon.
Saint George symbolizes the reason and the Good that triumph over Evil. In the Spallini’s interpretation, Saint George was painted in white and blue – the home side colors – whereas the Dragon took opponent Bologna’s red and blue colors.
Such choreography turned out to be a good omen indeed, as Ferrara and their passionate supporters won the derby thanks to a pennellata (a “brush stroke,” as you call a soft and precise winning shot in Italy…) by their midfielder Alberto Grassi.