From "The Guardian", 15 March 1997


by James Tandy in Rome

LUTHER Blissett, the former Watford striker, is on trial in Italy for resisting arrest and insulting a public official. Or to be more accurate, four Luther Blissetts are in the dock.

The trial of four Italian youths found travelling withut tickets on a nigt tram last summer began in Rome on Thursday. When asked by police to identify themselves, all four gave the name Luther Blissett, in memory of the British football player still remembered in Italy for his disastrous 1982 season with AC Milan.

According to their lawyer, when the four were apprehended on the night of June 17 1995, they were staging an itinerant party with improvised music and dancing on the tram. The peaceful "sociocultural happening" was being broadcast live on a local leftwing radio station, Radio Città Futura.

In the words of the Blissetts themselves: "The forces of law and order arrived and, incapable of understanding the event, decided immediately to repress it, even firing shots into the air".

The four are members of a loosely-knit anarchic youth movement that has adopted the identity of Luther Blissett as a cover for a series of hoaxes and practical jokes.

"The group considers identity to be the prison of the self," said Checchino Antonini, an editor at Radio Città Futura. "Identity and fixity are the enemies of communication and have to be combated by nomadism and collective identity. When the conductor asked for their tickets, they replied that a collective identity does not travel with a ticket."

He said the group had selected Luther Blissett, once known by British fans as "Luther Missit" as a cultural icon because his career in Italy had been so unlucky. Blissett was "famous for missing open goals and for the inexorable precision with which he would find the goalpost,", according to an unforgiving account in an Italian newspaper.

The prosecutor, Gloria Attanasio, has failed to see the funny side, however, and the trial has been postponed until December.