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Will the Dutch Pay to Fix Bernini Fountain Trashed by Soccer Hooligans?

Restorers working on the Barcaccia fountain in the wake of last week's damage (photo by Valerio Mezzolani)
Restorers working on the Barcaccia fountain in the wake of last week’s damage (photo by Valerio Mezzolani)

In advance of soccer teams Feyenoord and AS Roma facing off again tonight, the Dutch Senate has said that its government should pay for the restoration of the Bernini fountain damaged by Feyenoord fans in Rome last week. A Dutch restoration company has independently offered its services to the Italian government as well, agreeing to foot much of the bill if it’s hired.

The Barcaccia fountain in the wake of the clash between Feyenoord fans and police (image via @SilviaTedeschi_/Twitter) (click to enlarge)
The Barcaccia fountain in the wake of the clash between Feyenoord fans and police (image via @SilviaTedeschi_/Twitter) (click to enlarge)

The fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome, designed by Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, was damaged a week ago when at least hundreds, potentially thousands, of drunken Feyenoord fans descended on Rome’s historic center in advance of a European League soccer game. They left bottles and trash in the streets and clashed with police, in the process scratching and chipping the Barcaccia fountain, which had just been restored. One Italian official called the damage “permanent and irreparable.”

In the wake of the incident, the question has been who will pay for the restoration of the fountain. Rome’s mayor, Ignazio Marino, called upon the Netherlands to do so, but the government refused, arguing it was not responsible and vowing to help Italy find the culprits in order to make them pay. Now, however, the Dutch Senate says it thinks the government should pay, as a sign of “decency in the name of the entire Dutch population,” La Reppublica reports. “None of us wants the world to see us as people who ignore the damage and turn the other cheek,” said Senate Labour Party leader Marleen Barth.

Independently from the government, a private Dutch restoration firm has offered to do the job. Royal Woudenberg, which was responsible for the renovation of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, said it would “spend up to 50,000 euros ($56,795) on the repairs, and if it cost more then it would seek help from others,” Reuters reports. The employees apparently thought up the idea on their lunch break and made it official in a letter to Italy’s ambassador at The Hague.

T-shirt made by Feyenoord fans in advance of the game against AS Roma tonight (photo via the Guardian/Twitter)
T-shirt made by Feyenoord fans in advance of the game against AS Roma tonight (via the Guardian/Twitter)

Meanwhile, the two soccer teams have just begun their match. Police around Rotterdam have been on high alert, trying to head off both retaliatory actions by Roma fans and further instigation by Feyenood supporters, some of whom took it upon themselves to make a T-shirt with the words “Je Suis Fountain” overlaid on an image of the Barcaccia; underneath it says, “Just kidding, see you Thursday, you stabbing AS Roma scum.”

Some 2,700 Romans are expected in Rotterdam for the game. Dozens have already been detained by police, according to La Reppublica, not for violence but in an effort to keep them apart from Feyenoord fans.

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