Play Ultras players must dodge baton-wielding police figurines to reach football stadium while avoiding a stay in hospital
As Italy struggles to bring football violence under control, a new board game celebrating the exploits of rampaging hooligans has been denounced by government officials.
Modelled on Monopoly and selling for €49, Play Ultras swaps the car, the hat and the boot for miniature hooligans armed with belts, sticks and bars.
Players must pass helmeted, baton-wielding riot police figurines to reach a football stadium. The winner is the player who can get the largest number of his pieces into the stadium to watch the game, while avoiding a stay in hospital.
"This is not a positive or educational game and seems designed simply to make money," said Roberto Massucci, the vice president of Italy's National Observatory for Sporting Events, part of the interior ministry.
Giacomo Lonzi, one of the game's developers, defended Play Ultras and insisted he was not encouraging violence. "I am an ex-ultra against any form of violence," he told Corriere della Sera. "The message is: go wild on the board with the dice – but stay calm when you go to a match."
At least 1,000 copies of Play Ultras have reportedly been sold since its launch this week at a games and comics fair in Lucca. An English-language version is in the works.
Massucci said Italian football was cleaning up its act after years of clashes between ultras and riot police. "Fighting your way past the police to get to the stadium is over, so at best this game is a way for people to relive something that doesn't happen any more," he said.
"If I was an ultra I would be offended since it defines ultras as people who smash up stations and clash with police and they are not all like that."