Shortly after 6 p.m. in the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Kick-off. Over 70,000 fans sing their anthems. The yellow and red people line up close together in the Curva Sud – the south curve – and make the Capitoline She-Wolf appear from a sea of ​​cardboard signs. The legendary she-wolf who, according to myth, suckled the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. It is the coat of arms of AS Roma.

In the stands opposite: the hated rival. The Curva Nord – the North Curve – lets a huge eagle sink into a sky-blue sea of ​​Lazio supporters. The mood is just as heated as the humid, warm weather.

Only this deafening bang silences the fans. A cannon blast. Short shock. Just a few seconds. Then continue singing, screaming, etching. On this day, Rome is the scene of one of the most heated derbies in world football. AS against Lazio. For the fans of the city rivals, it’s not a game. It’s a fight. And the Stadio Olimpico is their battlefield. On the pitch and in the stands.

Fans of both teams are already out and about in the city on the morning of the derby. In the fan shops, AS supporters equip themselves with scarves and jerseys. Jackie came from Israel with his family especially for the game: “I’ve been a Roma fan for more than 20 years. This club is passion personified and is simply a joy. This is the third game I’ve seen at the Stadio Olimpico “My first derby – the most important game of the season”.

The 23-year-old Roman Ludovica has also been cheering on the Giallorossi – the yellow-reds – since her childhood: “My father and grandfather took me to an AS game for the first time when I was just two years old. I have been ever since Almost never missed anything. I have an annual ticket for over 2000 euros.” Ludovica goes to the stadium alone today and stands in the south curve wearing the Pellegrini jersey. The fact that she is a woman alone in this heated game doesn’t bother her. She says: “We Roma fans are like a family.”

Rome is a noisy city, full of people and tourists. But today the eternal city is literally bursting. Many fans are already sitting in pubs and bars at lunchtime to secure seats for the kick-off in the evening. Massimiliano watches the game with his children in a bar in the city center. As a family they often go to the stadium together, but the derby against Lazio is too dangerous for him. There have been repeated riots between fans in the past. He doesn’t want to put his children in danger. The first scenes of riots were already circulating on social media in the morning. Videos of ultras fighting near the stadium. At the last derby in January, several people were stabbed. Lazio or AS – fans of both sides feel a feeling for their rivals deeper than hatred.

On match days in Germany, football fans are regularly asked to take public transport to the stadium. In Rome the exact opposite is the case: there is practically nothing driving. Rome belongs to football today. And this almost completely paralyzes Italy’s largest city.

The fans make the approximately 40-minute walk from the city center to the Stadio Olimpico. AS against Lazio, that is the duel South against North. The Roma fans come from the south, they color the streets yellow and red. The “Laziali” are marching from the north. The Stadio Olimpico – their Colosseum.

A small group of AS fans from Bulgaria make their way to the stadium. Vanja is also there. He’s on crutches because of a broken foot, but he doesn’t care. He says Rome is the perfect city to combine culture and sport in a short vacation. Despite the injury, he didn’t want to miss out on this experience with his friends. He would rather have one foot in the derby than not at all.

Three German tourists from Lake Constance also want to experience the game. They didn’t get any more tickets online, but are hoping that someone will sell tickets in front of the stadium at short notice. Unlikely. The derby is the most important event of the year for Roman fans.

Unlike the three from Lake Constance, Heiko from Braunschweig was able to get a ticket. His motivation: “To see the stadium where Germany became world champions in 1990.” The derby itself was more of a coincidence, but not a bad one.

The closer the fans get to the stadium, the more tense the atmosphere becomes. People are focused, attentive. Incidents around the stadium are not uncommon. According to reports, this time too there was a clash between hundreds of supporters of the two teams shortly before the start of the game. The police had to use tear gas to separate the hooligans. This is also the “Derby della Capitale”.

The stadium is also divided like the city: the AS fans in the south, the Lazio fans in the north. The play of colors from yellow-red turns into blue-white. Shortly before kick-off, the first firecrackers and Bengal flares fly onto the field. The noise is almost unbearable.

During the game, the Lazio fans repeatedly attract negative attention. As in the past, Lazio ultras provoke with the fascist greeting “Saluto romano,” media later reported. A man in the upper rank even gives the Hitler salute several times. Fascist and racist Lazio fan groups have regularly made negative headlines for decades. Also in this game.

When black players, like AS striker Romelu Lukako, have the ball, Lazio fans make monkey noises. A young black man sits a few rows away.

The game ends with a narrow 1-0 win for AS Roma. In the morning, Jackie from Israel was confident that his team would finally win again after their recent derby defeats, and he was right.

After the final whistle, the mood of some Lazio fans turned into a riot: objects flew onto the pitch and into the AS fans’ area. The first fights start in front of the gates of the stadium. The mood is tense again, people remain vigilant. Only after a few kilometers, on the way back to the center, do the AS Roma fans start to celebrate carefree. Cheering songs and car parades accompany them as they end the victory night of the “real Romans” with beer and pizza.