Rome (AFP) – Roma chairman James Pallotta on Wednesday offered to donate 230,000 euros ($285,000) to the city of Rome as well as paying a small fine for diving into a historic fountain after his club’s epic win over Barcelona.
Pallotta was filmed, surrounded by a crowd of delirious supporters, falling backwards into the fountain in Piazza del Popolo, a stone’s throw from the Spanish Steps, following his team’s incredible 3-0 victory on Tuesday evening, which saw Roma beat Barca on away goals and go through to the Champions League semi-finals.
When the images appeared on social media they started a furore.
Jumping into fountains is banned in Rome despite the hordes of people who want to relive Anita Ekberg’s Trevi Fountain scene from “La Dolce Vita”, and the fine is 450 euros.
Billionaire Pallotta, who runs the Raptor private investment group, works out of the United States and is visiting Rome to discuss a new stadium project with the city council.
On Wednesday, he called Rome mayor Viginia Raggi.
“Pallotta said sorry, he did it in a moment of excitement,” said Rome mayor Virginia Raggi, confirming reports in Italian media that the 60-year-old had called to apologise.
“He understands the example he has to give, and he’ll pay the fine,” Raggi added.
Pallotta then announced he would pay more than the fine.
“I want to thank the mayor for my well-deserved fountain fine. I got caught up in the excitement, it was a great night for all of us in Rome.”
Pallotta urged others not to follow his example, “except if they want to fix the fountain”
In a statement released on Wednesday morning the consumer association Codacons blasted the “very bad example for the millions of young people who follow football and Roma, who should be taught to respect public heritage and historical property”.
Rome is often mobbed by crowds of rowdy football fans, both local and foreign, who take to the city’s historic centre for pre-match drinking or post-victory celebrations.
In 2015, 500 Feyenoord supporters damaged the Barcaccia fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps, filling it with empty beer bottles and cans.