Thu Jul 08 11:54am EDT
Pitch invader Mario Ferri arrived at the Spain-Germany semifinal on Wednesday in a wheelchair, hoping to go unnoticed before launching his plot. In the early minutes of the match, he jumped out of the chair and bolted onto the pitch, evading security for his moment of attention. The reason he wanted that attention was to show off his shirt — a modified Superman T-shirt with the words "peace in the world" across the top, a couple mentions of a cafe in his hometown of Pescara, Italy, and his main point: "Cassano in Nazionale — Lippi I told you so".
This wasn't a one-off stunt for Ferri, though. It was actually the grand finale in a trilogy of pitch invasions all based around his desire to see Sampdoria striker Antonio Cassano on Italy's national team. Throughout World Cup qualifying, Italy manager Marcello Lippi stubbornly ignored the many calls to include the mouthy and temperamental goal-scorer in his squad, which is what prompted Ferri's first pitch invasion.
During a friendly between Italy and the Netherlands in Pescara back in November, Ferri jogged unobstructed through the match with the first iteration of his "Cassano in Nazionale" shirt.
Like all the other calls, Lippi ignored Ferri's attempts to face the support for Cassano, but that didn't deter Mario. In March he did it again, this time as Cassano himself played in a match between Sampdoria and Napoli. According to Goal.com, Ferri took a more elaborate approach for this one, dressing as a steward to gain access to the pitch before scampering around in his Superman shirt of support. Cassano himself escorted Ferri off and urged stadium security to go easy on him. Ferri still spent 12 hours in jail and received a lengthy ban from attending matches.
But for his World Cup stunt, the consequences could be even more serious. Although he was able to stick it to Lippi (and his awful group-stage crash-out) on the biggest stage yet, Ferri may now be rethinking the lengths he's gone to support his favorite player. South Africa police minister Nathi Mthethwa says Ferri was supposed to return to Italy on Thursday, but could now be forced to stay in South Africa "a year or more." At least that will give him plenty of time to make his next T-shirt.
Photo: Getty Images; Videos via ONTD