The COVID-19 pandemic has seemingly left no one unaffected. Yet football supporters across Europe have stepped up to support their communities in a myriad of ways through the crisis.
SD Europe gained a deep insight into a supporter initiative taking place in one of the countries most affected by the Coronavirus: Italy.
“Now, with the current situation we feel we have to do something, there are more important issues in our city than football”
We spoke to Fabio Guarini, a Supporters In Campo Board Member and Chairman of APS Taras 706 BC, the supporters trust of Italian Serie C side Taranto FC.
For those unfamiliar, Fabio offered a summary of Taras 706 and the influence it has over the football club. “Taras 706 was founded in 2012 following Taranto FC’s expulsion from the league owing to financial troubles. We started with 30 founding members and now we have around 2,600. We own 7% of Taranto Football Club 1927 which now plays in the fourth league. We have special voting rights, the football club cannot change the club’s colours, move to a different city or be sold to somebody else without our permission as the fans’.
Taras 706 recently started a campaign called ‘Spesa Solidale’ to help people in the city of Taranto. “Spesa Solidale”, translated to English as ‘Spending for Solidarity’, is a campaign to raise funds for the people of Taranto whose livelihoods are seriously disrupted by the knock-on effects of the pandemic. Taras 706 is using an online fundraising platform to collect donations from its members and citizens.
Fabio explained “Taranto is in the south of Italy, it’s a poorer city, it has some problems with pollution, it has problems with unemployment, there are not many opportunities. Now, with the current situation we feel we have to do something, there are more important issues in our city than football, we need to face the situation, this is our cause, this is why we are fundraising. Spesa Solidale is a fundraiser to help the people of Taranto during these troubles, it is to help them buy necessities. A lot of people in Taranto, with the restrictions, are experiencing work problems and it’s increasing dramatically. Because of this, we decided to make this contribution”.
To maximise the impact of the total amount raised, Fabio explained that the money will be given to a local charity with the expertise to ensure those most in need benefit, “once the total amount has been raised when the fundraising campaign is finished, we will donate the money to a local charity association with more experience than us to help people in difficult situations in Taranto”.
When asked why Taras 706 decided to begin the campaign, Fabio said “Right now, for me, football is not so important. It seems crazy to say that, but it’s not so important whilst we are facing these problems. I see friends who have been affected, the situation in Italy is probably the worst of all because we have been in lockdown for so long now. The situation is terrible for us, we had this fundraising idea because football is so far from our actual lives now. In the lower leagues, we have to accept that there will be problems in the future, but now we need to focus our attention on our situations, our lives in this moment, this gave us the idea to do something now for the city which is more important than the football club.”
Since starting the campaign, other Taranto FC supporters groups have followed Taras 706’s lead. “After we started our campaign, I know that there are other supporters organisations from Taranto who have decided to do something similar to help.”
Taras 706 do not wish to disclose specifically how much has been raised so far, however, the organisation did jump start the campaign with its own donation of €500 and have received a flood of donations since.
It is clear for all to see that Taras 706 are committed to making a tangible difference at the local level in its city through this global crisis. This act of solidarity between the Tarato FC fans and the city will no doubt ease the strain for many who are suffering because of the pandemic.
SD Europe would like to sincerely thank Fabio Guarini and Taras 706, and wish them the very best with the campaign.
For anyone interested in donating to ‘Spesa Solidale’, click here.