Friday, 24th May, 2013
Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi has urged fans of his club and of Lazio to lay down their differences and enjoy the "party" atmosphere of Sunday’s Coppa Italia final.
Fans of both clubs have had a tumultuous relationship ever since the Rome derby started, with their most recent clash coming in April when supporters on both sides were reportedly stabbed ahead of a Serie A game.
With both local pride and a Europa League berth at stake, the two sides will be desperate to redeem something from a mediocre season that saw Roma finish sixth and Lazio a place below them.
Delegations from the teams met with Italy’s president Giorgio Napolitano ahead of the final, and De Rossi, who remains an injury doubt, said: "I am confident and convinced that this derby is to be just a party."
Napolitano himself added weight to the plea for peace, saying: "Racism is the degradation of civil customs. It is boorish and the bias should be swept from the stadiums."
Lazio fans have, in recent times, also been involved in altercations with supporters from abroad with nine Tottenham fans attacked before a Europa League clash in November last year.
Roma, meanwhile, have been slapped with a one-match stadium closure for next season following racist chanting against AC Milan players in a league game earlier this month.
However, De Rossi added: "With President Napolitano we talked about the importance of the sporting challenge and also the responsibility that we have as players.
"On the field we must avoid excessive gestures and lead by example, without giving bringing excessive tension to the environment.
"Certainly unpleasant incidents have occurred in the past, and not only in Rome, but do not look back at the past. Think positive, and think only of the sporting aspect."
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