MILAN (Reuters) - Fans of Italian club Genoa watched the first 43 minutes of their team’s Serie A match at home to Empoli in near silence on Sunday to honour the victims of the motorway bridge collapse in the city earlier this month.
An 80-metre-long section of the bridge, part of a motorway linking the port city of Genoa with southern France, gave way on Aug. 14 in busy lunchtime traffic, sending dozens of vehicles into free-fall and killing 43 people.
In the first match at the city’s Luigi Ferraris stadium since the disaster, there was an impeccably observed minute’s silence before kickoff followed by applause for relatives of the victims who were invited onto the pitch.
As requested by Genoa fans, the silence continued after kickoff, to the extent that it seemed the match was being played behind closed doors with only the shouts of the players echoing around the stadium.
In a statement before the games, the fans had asked for “a deafening silence of 43 minutes, one for each child, worker, student, father or mother who are no longer with us today.”
There were occasionally muffled cheers and applause when Genoa attacked but, even when they scored twice in the first 20 minutes, there was almost no celebration in the crowd.
In the 43rd minute, applause broke out as the names of the victims were displayed on the screen, then the crowd began singing and shouting as usual and continued for the rest of the game. Genoa went on to win 2-1.
Genoa’s opening game of the season had been called off last Sunday as had that of their city rivals Sampdoria, who played their first game away to Udinese on Sunday.
Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar