By now, you may well have seen Francesco Totti celebrate his two goals in the latest Rome derby by taking a selfie in front of the Curva Sud in the Stadio Olimpico.
It was Totti’s 40th appearance in the derby della capitale and he is now the all-time leading goal scorer in league matches between the sides.
If there was anyone who bled yellow and imperial purple, it’s Totti. The 38 year old was born in Rome, and “er Pupone” has surely lived out his boyhood dreams of scoring against city rivals Lazio time and time again.
While Roma have many rivals in Italy including Juventus and Napoli, as they now regularly compete for Champions League places, the derby della capitale is always the most significant for Roman football supporters.
No matter how badly Roma or Lazio are doing in the league, the derby will always sell-out.
The rivalry goes back to when Roma were founded in 1927. Benito Mussolini wanted a team in Rome to challenge the Northern Italian teams.
He therefore merged several teams in Rome to found “Roma”. Lazio was the only major club to resist.
Lazio fans are always known to come from outside the city, from the Lazio region in which Rome is situated. However, you will find support for Lazio all over the city, as you will for Roma.
As with many continental football teams, the political views of their fan base often ends up on the terraces.
Roma fans have been traditionally known to be left wing, while Lazio are known to be right wing. Neither is 100% true as both clubs’ fan bases cross the political spectrum.
However, Lazio’s ultras have often used fascist symbols on their banners. One of their banners once claimed that Roma was a “team of blacks followed by Jews”, while Roma supporters would usually claim that Lazio fans are uneducated hicks or burini (peasants).
While Francesco Totti may be the ultimate Roman icon over the last 20 years or so, Paolo Di Canio, albeit briefly, embodied the spirit of the Lazio Ultras when he gave a Roman salute, which is similar to that adopted by fascists, when he scored a goal against Roma during his brief spell with Lazio.
While Italian football has not enjoyed the coverage on Irish or British television as it once did in its Channel 4 heyday, Italian derbies are still as big if not bigger than any English Premier League derby, especially the Roman derby.
Since the first derby in 1929, Roma still hold the most wins over their city rivals in all competitions, and Arne Selmossen, a Swede, is the only player ever to score for both Roma and Lazio in a derby.
This article appears on Pundit Arena, a sports media website powered by articulate fans, aspiring and established journalists.