Cesena President Igor Campedelli’s stand against the ultrà

Considering the influence some ultrà groups wield at their respective Serie A clubs, and taking into account just how far some of these people are willing to go to make a point, there are not many individuals involved in running these clubs prepared to stand up to them. Yet Cesena President Igor Campedelli is attempting to break that particular mould as the hardcore section of his club’s support attempt to exert pressure to get what they want.
Like any set of fans, the Weisschwarz Brigaden Cesena (WBC), the dissenting ultrà group against which Campedelli is standing, are unhappy at the fact their club lies in 19th place in the table. But it is not a simple case of league placing that is motivating them to take further action. They were riled by the lack of activity in the January transfer window after comments were made by various members of the club’s hierarchy that suggested new faces would arrive (in particular that of Adrian Mutu).
Their discontent led the group to release a statement after the 3-0 home defeat to Udinese in Week 25, the final paragraph of which read:
”After having given passion and unconditional patience to all at Cesena Calcio, we communicate our strong disagreement with the current situation, and the beginning of a dispute towards the Coach [Massimo Ficcadenti] and the club until we see concrete signs of change: first of all the removal of the Coach.”
Campedelli, not one to take the ultrà comments lying down, held a press conference on Monday in which he fielded no questions, but treated the gathered journalists to a monologue where he revealed that he and his family had received threats – and they were not the only ones. He claimed that workers at the official Cesena store had been visited by four members of the WBC on Saturday, who threatened to return and destroy the store if the President did not remove Ficcadenti from his position.
Most Presidents would have stopped there – expressing their objection to the dispute and urging the ultrà to cease with it. Campedelli however, went a step further by refusing to be bullied by the group and issuing a rather outrageous set of threats of his own – if the WSB go any further with their behaviour, he will sell the valuable players in the squad, decline to register the team for competition next season, and in his words “return the team to the city in the state that I found it.”
He took over majority shareholding of the company in December 2007, when they were close to bankruptcy, so his threats could potentially have serious consequences on the future of the club should he decide to carry them out. They were in Serie B at the time, but were relegated at the end of the 2007/08 season. But from the Prima Divisione (the old Serie C) in 2008/09, they achieved back-to-back promotions to return to Serie A for the current campaign, the first time they have been in Italy’s top division since 1990/91.
That all this was achieved under Campedelli’s presidency is of no interest to the WSB, who rather amusingly stated that his performance at the press conference deserved ”an Oscar, or at the very least a David di Donatello [the Italian film equivalent of the Oscars] for Best Actor.” They have made it clear they intend to continue their “dispute” with the Coach and club, and dismissed his outburst by issuing a rather ominous warning in response:
”We do not feel a duty to respond to these threats because he [Campedelli] knows very well that in a scenario of that kind he would find – together with friends, colleagues and family – not a city, but a region against him, succeeding in the intention to unite the ultrà and the rest of the supporters.”
Campedelli’s stand is admirable, but he may have to change his approach the next time he speaks out. Like their President, the ultrà are not backing down from this one.

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