Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Roberto Gotta in Italy

Italy’s best tactical move since last Thursday, when their football team beat Germany to qualify for the Euro2012 final, was made by President Giorgio Napolitano, who invited the Azzurri to visit him at his presidential palace on Monday, win or lose. Lose, they did. Sunday’s 4-0 defeat became Italy’s worst ever result in the final stages of European Championship or World Cup finals.

Their second worst was in the 1970 World Cup final, when an Azzurri team which had not been expected to go that far (have we heard this before?) were beaten 4-1 by Brazil. Angry fans pelted the returning party with tomatoes and rotten eggs, their ire directed more at coach Ferruccio Valcareggi, for his selection policy, than at the players, in what remains a shameful moment in a long list of indecent behaviour by calcio supporters.

Seldom has defeat been accepted in a country with a poor culture of sportsmanship (during Sunday’s final the main megascreen in Rome’s Circo Massimo had to be turned off after flares, bottles and flagpoles were thrown at it late in the second half), but Napolitano’s gesture sent a message of goodwill and decency which is, sadly, not likely to be taken by as many as it should, despite the fact the whole thing will be broadcast live.

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