I completely understand the connotation that “hate” is a strong word. But, when one truly does have a complete and general disdain for something, the word is not only applicable, but also wholly necessary. This article would never have been written if I weren’t sure that there is a sizeable percentage of the population that equally shares my sentiment. Go ahead, search Google with the query, “Why I hate Italian Soccer” – I’ll play a few games of Fifa while you read through 2.3 million results. Done? Want some substance as to why so much of the football world thinks the only contribution that the Italians need to bring to the table is a decent risotto recipe and to lay off the mousse? Let’s go.
A Starting XI of Portuguese Porn Stars
Countless movies have stereotyped the fiery Italian attitude that would seemingly make any New Yorker appear as docile and apathetic as a UC Berkley graduate student – and it would seem that this identity of Italian society is carried over to the pitch. Recently, more and more commentary listened to during English games shuns and calls out the “foreigners” destruction of the [English] game. With enough controversy over referees this season – the blatancy of simulation (see: Arsenal v. Utd – Arsenal v. Celtic) is enough to drive any fan crazy. However, some statistics may help paint a clearer picture. Looking at the EPL Player Discipline list for the campaign thus far this season, Javier Mascherano comes top table. While this is no surprise, his numbers (8 yellows, 2 reds) appear modest compared to the 14 yellows of Napoli’s Paolo Cannavaro. But, it’s not simply who’s making the disciplinary lists – it’s also those fouls that don’t end up as bookings. Last weekend in the AS Roma – Internazionale clash, there were 26 fouls committed by Inter. Compared to the Liverpool – Sunderland match, the Scousers took high marks with only 11 fouls (still less than Roma’s 16). It has to be asked, from the Italian game, how many of these are legitimate fouls? Can there be a different definition of what a “foul” is from country to country? With a start-stop method of play that is constantly interrupted by flailing arms and legs, it’s high time that Ronnie leaves Los Galacticos and settles in with a league where the acting skills that are barely on par with Hugh Jackman’s and overdramatized booboos are rewarded with a chance on goal.
Even Jose Hates It
When writing this article, I came to realize one thing about the style of Italian football: there is none; at least, not in the capacity that we think of when observing modern football. Style is a product of a domestic league competing and evolving continuously. Everyone knows the total football style of the Dutch, and its influence at Highbury and the Emirates in years past. Everyone knows the quick counter attack style of Chelsea that’s been the definition of their squad regardless of change in personnel or management. Everyone knows the methodical build-up of Liverpool and await the strike from distance of Steven Gerrard or a quick break from Fernando Torres. So, why is there no Italian style? Why can’t one separate Juve from Inter or AC Milan from Atalanta by any means other than their kits? Well, one must examine the previous complaint with regard to the immense number of fouls committed in any given match on Italian soil. With this continuous method of interruption – is there really any opportunity for a team to achieve a level of comfort that allows them to play the game in any of above mentioned styles? NO! Because of this, the style of the Italian game is simply to foul and fire in free kick after free kick. With this mind-numbing progression, it’s no wonder the Special One is desperate to return to English football, as he so stated in his interview before Inter’s Champions League tie with CSKA Moscow.
Of course, this is all opinion. Opinion that’s been – in effort – supported by evidence. The purpose was never to persuade any reader to feel as impassioned as I do, but to simply give a bit of reasoning behind such strong emotion to what, in my eyes, is a completely empty shell of what could be a brilliant competition.