Roma manager Rudi Garcia sat before the press yesterday, prior to today’s Rome derby against Lazio, ready to make a few points unrelated to tactics or personnel. He wanted to talk about Charlie.
But Garcia didn’t just show up with words and a sign. He gave every journalist in attendance a pencil.
The Charlie Hebdo gunmen targeted the weekly presumably not just for retribution for what they viewed as problematic depictions of Islam, but also to intimidate others into silence. Since the massacre, the pencil has become a symbol for freedom of expression.
Thus, Garcia’s gesture can easily be framed as not just an act of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo’s immediate victims, but also as an expression of support for all who make a living trying to express ideas through words and images.
In today’s derby, Lazio players wore jerseys with “Je suis Charlie” on the front, expressing the same sentiment of unity Garcia shared the day before. Roma facing Lazio is generally a volatile affair, and today’s 2-2 draw didn’t change the fundamental nature of their relationship. But it was great to see two rivals brought together to stand in solidarity in the aftermath of a horrific tragedy. Although the teams split the points on the field, they both took full points for decency.