In the first Roma Fan Club Spotlight, we speak to Marco Ciarla and Tad Burns, president and vice president of Curva DC, about how the club was formed, football culture in Washington D.C and a match day in the life of a Curva DC member...
When was Curva DC formed and what was the idea behind setting up the club?
Tad Burns: "We formed in 2014 after a very auspicious turn of events. Marco [Ciarla] had created a club with a Facebook page, and started posting pictures of him watching games with his brother, father, and other friends. I had just moved to DC after 8 years in Rome as a tour guide, and was desperate to find other Roma fans to watch the games with. After watching the derby at 6am at a pub with only one other person, a Lazio fan, I found the Facebook page and we decided to properly launch the club.
"We found a pub, Ireland's Four Courts, that has been very supportive in growing our numbers and being a welcoming place that will always show the games in a reserved area. The idea was to have a place for people who have been fans of the team since birth all the way to someone watching their first Serie A game. Ireland's Four Courts is a place where ALL Roma fans can feel welcome."
What can you tell the readers about yourself and your role with Curva DC?
Marco Ciarla: "I am a first-generation Italian-American, and work for the Army Corps of Engineers. My official role with Curva DC is club president, and I manage all of our Rome-facing needs, and our communication with UTR (Unione Tifosi Romanisti)."
Tad: "I grew up in the beautiful state of Iowa, and currently own an interior design business in Washington, DC, called the Forum. My official role in the club is vice president, and I am responsible for attracting club sponsors and maintaining those relationships to help the club generate revenue.
"Marco and I both manage additional club functions, including organising the watch parties, merchandise, and social media. Additionally many of our members are eager to assist, and spend whatever time it takes to make sure all the club's needs are met."
What does a normal Roma matchday look like for members of Curva DC?
Marco: "The match has been hyped all week on the Curva DC group chat! Match day starts with whoever has woken up first, beginning to pump everyone up about how excited they are for the day ahead! Other members start chiming in on who is coming to Ireland’s Four Courts, and when. Tad and I are coordinating with bar staff about where we will be sectioned. Hilarious memes and trash talking begins to escalate the closer we get to game time. The best part is arriving at the pub.
"Then the game starts, beer always in hand. As more and more people begin to arrive, everyone's excitement increases. Each Curva DC member is greeted with a loud "HEEEEEEEY!" as they enter! By the time the game starts, and pleasantries are exchanged, we are near fever pitch. Watching the game involves club chants, singing, and yelling at bad calls in Italian, as to not irritate other patrons with swearing in a language they can understand.
"The crescendo is when Roma scores. The recreation of shouting the player’s first name and the rest of the screaming his last name in unison brings you right to the magic of the Curva Sud. Half-time is filled with raffles, club announcements and sponsor shout-outs. When each match concludes, we play 'Grazie Roma', and take a group photo outside. We can’t wait to watch games with Curva DC again!"
Have you or any of your members been over for a match this season?
Marco: "Many of our members organised a club trip in the spring, which sadly didn't happen this season. Over the course of the year, we’ve had a DC-based Roma Club member at 12-15 games per season. Our club banner always hangs in the stadium."
How do you stay connected to the club when Washington D.C. is over 6,000 km away from Rome?
Tad: "We live in a time where the world is totally connected. Marco keeps us all informed about the club's relationship with UTR. Outside of that, there isn't a single piece of club news that doesn't get presented and dissected on the group chat. If you’re a member of Curva DC and didn't follow anything the team did on social media, or read anything about them yourself on the internet, you'd be well informed by a cacophony of digital messages from various members. Additionally, many of us are friends, and spend time together outside of Curva DC, and we’re constantly talking about Roma."
Why should someone join Curva DC?
Marco: "So many reasons! We are friendly for everyone - no matter background, gender, age or familiarity with the team. For those new to calcio, we have a great group of members who help you every step of the way, With Roma, you also get to follow a team based in the greatest city in human history, that draws on its heritage to ignite the passion of its followers.
"For those who are already Roma fans, no matter for how long, you get to have as close of any experience to the Olimpico as you are going to get outside of Rome itself. There are always at least 25 people, even for a 9am game against Benevento.
"What's unique about Curva DC is although we have a great contingent of Italian men and women in the club, our members’ backgrounds are incredibly diverse. You can be Totti jersey twins with someone born in Bolivia that serves in the US Army, a Texan that went to Georgetown, or a cop from Belgium who drives to watch the games from Pennsylvania. Tad even rekindled a friendship with someone he went to high school with in Iowa after coming to Curva DC! Outside of Roma games, the club gets together for barbecues, soccer tournaments, bar crawls, and fundraisers. Curva DC has truly become a family!"
Can you describe what the football culture looks like in Washington D.C., and if it has impacted your Roma Club in any way?
Tad: "DC is a big soccer town. We have an MLS team with an amazing new stadium. Every major European team has at least one supporters' club. People play, watch, eat, sleep and drink soccer. All over the city you see flags, bumper stickers and jerseys of MLS and global soccer teams. The overall excitement of the soccer culture in DC really helps people not be afraid to be new to the sport."
What is your favorite Roma moment since Curva DC was formed?
Tad: "In 2017 my wife and I were married in Rome. A lot of the club members at that point had become family to me, so several of them came over. The wedding hashtag was #RomaWeddingDerby. Our guest gift was a Roma scarf with #RomaWeddingDerby and the shield on it. The day after the wedding we took 100 people to Roma v Lazio. It was incredible. A big chunk of distiniti sud was taken up by Curva DC. Kiete Balde did his best to ruin our weekend by scoring a brace, and we lost 3-1, but being in the Olimpico with Marco and other Curva DC members that had become family will be cherished. "
"I will never forget Totti’s last game, and celebrating Perrotti’s goal against Genoa. I saw the ball go in, and the next thing I knew, I was in tears as Totti made his way around the Olimpico."
Clearly, a sense of community is important to your Roma Club. Can you tell us how members of Curva DC came together to support the club’s Covid-19 fundraising campaign for Lazzaro Spallanzani Hospital?
Tad: "There was a lot of confusion with what was happening in Italy when the coronavirus started to really devastate the country. One of our members, Garren LaPosta, called Marco and me to see if Curva DC could help AS Roma’s Covid-19 relief efforts. Curva DC stepped up, and we were able to raise over 1,600 Euros in a week. We have never been more proud of our club."
What does it mean for Curva DC to be members of the AS Roma family, especially during this difficult time?
Marco: "The mantra that keeps being repeated here is, 'We are all in this together!'
"When you see all the posts on Roma’s Twitter account, featuring medical professionals, it really speaks truth to those words. You realise what we are enduring in the United States is similar to what has gone on in Italy, and around the world. You want the best for your AS Roma family all over the world, and it helps you realise you want the same for humanity. Having Roma to help all of us realise that is very meaningful."
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