Genoa fans stay silent for 43 minutes to honour victims of bridge collapse
Genoa fans remained silent on Sunday for the first 43 minutes of their club's Serie A opener -- one minute for each of the 43 victims of the Morandi Bridge collapse in the port city this month.
In the first match at the city's Luigi Ferraris stadium since the disaster, there was an impeccably observed minute's silence before kickoff.
The silence then continued, to the extent that it seemed the match was being played behind closed doors with only the shouts of the players echoing around the stadium.
In a statement before the games, the fans had asked for "a deafening silence of 43 minutes, one for each child, worker, student, father or mother who are no longer with us today."
There were occasionally muffled cheers and applause when Genoa attacked but, even when they scored twice in the first 20 minutes, there was almost no celebration in the crowd.
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."
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 kickoff with Cesare Cerulli, the 11-year-old son of bridge collapse victim Andrea Cerulli.
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.
Genoa wore black ribbons on its 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 their opening match postponed and were beaten 1-0 at Udinese in its opener.
Udinese fans held aloft a banner that read, "Beyond the colors, united in pain."
A huge section of the bridge collapsed Aug. 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.
Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.