As stars of Italy’s Serie A league, they are used to weaving between opponents, but the football players of AS Roma have met their match in the form of the city’s chronic potholes.
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Players say that the cavernous holes that pepper the capital’s roads are taking a heavy toll on their top-of-the-range sports cars and SUVs.
One player, Edin Dzeko, who is Bosnian, has likened the state of the capital’s roads to Sarajevo during the Balkan wars.
Several players have complained that their prized vehicles take a pounding when they drive along a battered stretch of road to the club’s training ground in Trigoria, on the southern outskirts of the capital.
Among the players to have lamented the condition of the roads are Juan Jesus, from Brazil, and Diego Perotti, from Argentina.
“Rome is a marvelous city but the roads look like those in Sarajevo after they were hit by artillery,” Mr Dzeko said when he joined Roma two years ago.
Asked to choose which was worse – the potholes or Romans’ white-knuckle driving style – he diplomatically swerved the question.
Years of under-investment and neglect have turned Rome’s roads into a perilous slalom course for cars and scooters.
There are an estimated 55,000 potholes in the city’s roads, from cracks in the asphalt to yawning craters, and each year they cause thousands of accidents.
On social media, some Romans had scant sympathy for the players, saying that with their stratospheric salaries they could easily afford repairs to dented axles and punctured tyres.
But their complaints were seized on by opposition city councilors, who accuse Virginia Raggi, the mayor and head of the Five Star administration, of doing nothing to tackle the pothole crisis.
“It’s like a war zone around Trigoria, which is systematically damaging the cars of Roma’s champions,” said Piero Cucunato, a councilor from the centre-Right Forza Italian party.
“I called for the potholes to be repaired a year and a half ago but I still have not had a reply from the city council. Every few metres there is a pothole. The situation is on the verge of collapse.”
The city council said that the roads that the players are complaining about will be mended by the end of October.
Until then, players are advised to keep their speed down to 30kmh and to weave between the potholes as best they can.