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Italian football fan convicted of groping TV reporter

Greta Beccaglia hails ruling as victory for all women.

An Italian court on Tuesday handed an 18-month suspended jail term for sexual assault to a football fan who molested a female sports journalist live on television in November 2021.

Andrea Serrani, a 47-year-old restaurateur from Ancona, groped Greta Beccaglia from behind as she reported live from Empoli's Castellani Stadium after a Serie A game against Fiorentina.

The court in Florence ordered Serrani to pay €10,000 in compensation to Beccaglia (28) as well as €5,000 to the Order of Journalists and the FNSI union of journalists which had filed a civil action.

Beccaglia described the ruling as "a victory for all women", telling Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: "Nobody has the right to violate our rights, to consider our body as a trophy, nobody must humiliate us, denigrate us, consider us an object. Nobody."

Beccaglia said she would donate all of the compensation money to a non-profit organisation that fights for the violated rights of women.

Asked if she had forgiven the man, she told the Corriere: "It's not important that I forgive him. It is he who must forgive himself. I hope he understood the harm he did to me. He spat on his hand before groping me... I hope that finally a woman can be free to do her job without being harassed."

Beccaglia said she still receives anonymous threats a year later, some accusing her of "ruining" a person, others claiming that the man was only "joking".

Insisting that she would not give in to intimidation, Beccaglia said: "I don't want to be considered a champion. I only did my duty as a woman and as a journalist."

Background to the case

Immediately after the incident, while still on air for Toscana TV, Beccaglia called after the man, saying: "Excuse me, you can't do this", before other men passed by closely muttering comments and another man stopped to swear into the camera and make a rude hand gesture.

Compounding the situation, her male colleague in the studio, 65-year-old veteran journalist Giorgio Micheletti, was widely accused of downplaying the incident, advising her "not to get mad" over it.

Beccaglia took to Instagram immediately, slamming the incident as "unacceptable in 2021".

The match, which took place two days after the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women, was the centre-piece in a high-profile Serie A campaign called "Give violence against women the red card."

Footballers took to the field in the Castellani Stadium with red marks on their faces to highlight the scourge of domestic abuse and to raise awareness of the anti-stalking hotline 1522.

Beccaglia received solidarity from the president of Tuscany's guild of journalists (ODG), Giampaolo Marchini, who noted that the "worrying episode" took place "in the days when maximum attention is given to the struggle against gender-based violence."

Marchini continued: "The person in the studio, however, instead of condemning the gesture, invited his colleague to 'not be angry'. An incomprehensible attitude. No words of solidarity were heard towards her from the presenter".

He said the ODG reiterated "that the time has come to stop minimising and recalls that violence against women is above all a cultural and social problem".

Micheletti defended his actions, telling FQ Magazine: "I told her not to be angry so as not to panic her. I was not wrong, but now I look like the monster to be pursued".

He also told news agency ANSA: "I apologise for the unfortunate words used in the agitated moment of the live broadcast on Saturday. At that moment my only interest was to be of help to Greta. I have always had a great respect for women, in my life and in my professional career".

Reaction from politicians

The assault on Beccaglia was condemned outright by politicians from across the political spectrum, as well as by both the Empoli and Fiorentina clubs.

"What happened is very serious", said the prominent centre-left politician Laura Boldrini - "the mirror of a society in which women are forced to suffer and also to remain silent: this is not normal."

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia (FdI) and now prime minister of Italy, called for the person responsible "to be identified and punished".

The leader of the populist Movimento 5 Stelle, former premier Giuseppe Conte, described the incident as "an ignoble gesture" and "an attack on the freedoms of all women".

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