World Cup Fever, Italian Style


Marco Sandrini

The World Cup (yes, only World Cup, no need to specify the sport) is approaching fast, so here are a few hints to better understand the behaviour of us denizens of the “Bel Paese” during the June/July football frenzy.

1) Noi superstiziosi? Ma noooo…  When it comes to football, all Italians are superstitious. Even the most rational of us has some small rite to charm the good luck. Often kept secret for fear that revealing them would spoil their effect, our “portafortuna” may be small objects, habits or full-fledged rituals. People try to repeat the stuff they did before a victorious game, be it ordering the same drink from the bar, sitting in the same chair or wearing the same scarf. My cousin has the ‘Berlin 2006’ underwear stored jealously in a drawer waiting for the next time Italy will play in the Final….

2) 60 milioni di Commissari Tecnici. As the saying goes, in Italy there are 60 millions of national team managers. Regardless whether they follow football actively, or just by perusing the newspapers while having their mid-morning coffee at the cafe, everybody has a different opinion on who and how should play for Italy. In schools, offices, bars and squares endless hours are squandered debating whether Giaccherini could play as “falso nueve”, without of course realising that Giaccherini has not been even named to the squad….

3) Al Bar. No matter how comfy your couch is, or big your new 4K television is, football MUST be watched at the bar. Bars still offer a cross-section of Italian society, with the doctor and the unemployed, the lawyer and the factory worker sitting side-by-side and having equal rights to comment, shout, curse and cheer. Home of the political incorrectness, tucked away from the ears of too small kids, bars allow the football fanatic to speak up his mind, which often consists in wishing the worst possible diseases to the referees, the opponents, the opponents’ families and even to the Italian striker that sent the ball wide for the 10th time in the game.

4) La FIFA ci odia. Every self-respecting Italian believes, deep down inside, that the referees hate Italy. For some mysterious reason, the Italian Football Federation is deemed to lack the “political weight” in FIFA and thus referees are more than happy to help our opponents in kicking us out from the tournament. Although in 2002 some of the suspects were partially justified by this guy, it is always worth remembering that if your striker misses 4 easy goals, maybe the referee should not really be used as scapegoat.

5) Il carro dei vincitori. An Italian specialty tout court, jumping on the bandwagon, is especially true when it comes to the national football team. The last two victories (1982 and 2006) were preceded by scandals that made many to demand that either Italy would not take part at all in the competition or alternatively send the Youth Squad instead of the A-squad.  The same many that were later seen face painted in the national colours, waving a flag celebrating the victory. So even the undersigned now states, that he will not support the national team, with the not-so-secret hope of finding myself face-painted, waving a tricolore flag and trying to climb on top of Havis Amanda on July 13th.


Marco Sandrini is the Head of Software Development at Newentures, R&D Manager at Skillpixels and a massive Juventus supporter.


Photo by Moazzam Brohi (Creative Commons)

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