UPDATED: Norwegian police were worried about the safety of Norwegian fans who’d be cheering for the Bodø/Glimt football club at a huge match against Roma Thursday night. Police feared that after beating Roma twice, and getting caught in a fight between coaches for both sides, the Norwegians may not be entirely welcome in the Eternal City.
Nonsense, claimed Roma fans with whom Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) spoke prior to the match. “They (the Bodø/Glimt fans) are of course welcome to our fantastic city,” said one fan. Another, though, said he thinks it’s “very sad” that emotions were running so high on both sides.
First Roma was humiliated in a match last fall in Bodø, which Bodø/Glimt won with a sensational score of 6-1. Then Bodø/Glimt beat Roma again late last week by a score of 2-1, also in Bodø. All the Norwegian cheering was quickly replaced, however, by dismay over the European football federation’s suspension of Bodø/Glimt’s head coach, the highly popular and respected Kjetil Knutsen, following a fight right after the match with the coach for Roma’s goalkeepers, Nuno Santos. A probe is underway, with Bodø/Glimt claiming Santos grabbed Knutsen by the throat, only to be knocked to the ground by Knutsen.
Santos was suspended, too, but Knutsen’s suspension is a huge blow for the Bodø club and its loyal fans. Some claimed it just shows that a big club like Roma can more easily get its way from international football bureaucrats than a small club like Bodø. Around 70,000 fans, mostly supporting Roma, were expected at Thursday’s match, compared to the 8,000 that Bodø’s much smaller stadium can accommodate.
The Bodø fans were vastly outnumbered, prompting police to boost its threat assessment, but there were no major incidents. They ended up losing badly on the field, with Roma finally recovering to win by a score of 4-0, but spirits rose after major victories back home during the holiday weekend.