'Genoa in the heart' - Fans honour bridge-collapse victims with 43-minute silence
For the first 43 minutes of their club's Serie A opener, Genoa fans remained silent yesterday.
That was one minute for each of the 43 victims of the Morandi Bridge collapse in the port city this month.
In the 43rd minute, spectators began applauding respectfully as the names of those who died in the tragedy 12 days earlier were listed on a giant screen inside the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Then, the fans started chanting "Genova, Genova" - the Italian name of the city.
By then, Genoa had taken a 2-0 lead courtesy of early goals from Krzysztof Piatek and Christian Kouame, both of which were set up by Genoa captain Domenico Criscito.
Genoa won 2-1 after Samuel Mraz pulled one back for Empoli in stoppage time.
Criscito had entered the pitch before kick-off with Cesare Cerulli, the 11-year-old son of bridge-collapse victim Andrea Cerulli.
"The first thought always goes to the tragedy," Genoa coach Davide Ballardini said. "Then you train, but every day, you take a road or something else that reminds you of it. Our legs and heads were heavy."
Criscito and the other Genoa players wore T-shirts that read "Genoa nel cuore" - Genoa in the heart - with a design featuring a heart in the middle of the bridge span.
There was also a minute of silence observed, and Genoa wore black ribbons on their shirts, while the space usually reserved for sponsors was left blank.
A huge banner hanging from the stadium's upper deck read, "In silence for you, hurt 43 times in the heart. Get back on your feet proudly and become splendid again!"
Genoa's opening match at AC Milan scheduled for last weekend was postponed as the city was still in mourning.
Sampdoria, Genoa's other club, also had its opening match postponed and was beaten 1-0 at Udinese in its opener.
Udinese fans held aloft a banner that read, "Beyond the colours, united in pain."
A large section of the bridge collapsed on August 14 during a fierce storm, killing 43 people and forcing the evacuation of nearby residents in the densely built-up area. The cause is under investigation.