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Fans Celebrate AS Roma Title

June 24, 2001

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ROME (AP) _ An ancient Roman field was transformed into a jubilant sea of red and yellow Sunday, with hundreds of thousands of soccer fans, many bare-chested and bikini-clad, celebrating AS Roma’s first league title in 18 years.

The celebration, capping a week of car-honking parades through the capital’s streets, culminated Sunday with an evening concert and a promised striptease by Roma fan and movie star Sabrina Ferilli.

``My gift to the city,″ Ferilli said a few hours before her scheduled performance.

By the start of the concert, the ANSA news agency estimated more than a million people _ one-third of Rome’s population _ had poured into the Circus Maximus, where chariot races and fights were staged 2,000 years ago.

Perched on shoulders, lampposts and nearby ruins, the fans sounded air horns and waved the red and yellow Roma flags that many had used earlier in the day as makeshift tents to protect themselves from the blaring sun.

At one point, the concert was stopped for about 10 minutes while officials and singer Antonello Venditti pleaded with fans to get off the ruins.

The fire brigade was out in force during the afternoon with hoses to cool the sun-struck fans, many wearing Roma scarves and hats with their bathing suits as they danced on the field to celebrate Roma’s 3-1 victory a week earlier over AC Parma.

At Roma’s previous league championship in 1983 an estimated 350,000 fans celebrated.

``This is a truly incredible and unforgettable week,″ said Stefano Caredda, decked out in a wig of red and yellow on the Circus Maximus. ``Roma fans have got the love for the club injected into their veins!″

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