The Italianist is suddenly awaken from a year-long slumber by the recent statements of Arrigo Sacchi.
Sacchi was the coach of, among others, A.C. Milan football club in the 90s, when the Milanese team was practically undefeatable. He also led Italy through to the final of the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the US, sadly lost to Brasil after a particularly uninspiring match (which ended like this).
(However, someone has questioned whether the 1994 performance was the result of Sacchi’s coaching skills, or of mere luck).
Sacchi is now under fire for some comments he made at the end of a tournament for young players in Viareggio, Italy. He denounced his malaise at seeing too many black players. He said: “I am not a racist. But there are too many foreigners!!” To prove that he was no racist, he added: “I have coached Rijkaard“.
This is Rijkaard. Look how black he is!!
Having clarified he is no racist, Sacchi then went on to explain that “it is a shame to see so many black players in our youth teams. We [the Italians] are a people with no dignity, nor pride for our own country”. A racist, moi?
People who vote for Berlusconi are often the target of curiosity and/or negative comments. How can they, the comments go, keep voting for such a dodgy character? Are they missing something? Have they been brainwashed into loving him regardless of the truth?
No one can answer these questions, unfortunately. But certainly, these voters are not stupid. Certainly, they are not prone to misunderstanding what’s happening around them. Certainly, they double check facts before letting go of their emotions.
Except, today they did not understand that Berlusconi was actually being condemned, at last, for fraud. So, “Silvio’s army”, as they named themselves, celebrated his acquittal, and chanted “Silvio, Silvio!” in the streets of Rome until, finally, they realised that they hadn’t got what was going on. Oops.
The Italianist has had a long break. Pretty much, 12 months, minus two days. A lot has changed, in Italy, since then.
The Pope has resigned. There have been new elections. New parties have appeared on Italy’s political scene. Berlusconi has been condemned a few more times, just to keep up. Oh, and I’ve discovered the National Security Agency reads this blog every day.
As a sign of resilience in the face of the many difficulties the country has to face, an Italian MP from the 5 Star Movement today closed his address to the Parliament on the notes of “People have the Power”.
The power to dream, to rule, to wrestle the world from fools.
The journalist Massimo Gramellini, reporting on the 2012 Olympic Games in London, has pointed out an interesting element of the opening ceremony last week, an element which is “typically” italian.
As we all know, the hot moment of the opening ceremony is when the various delegations walk into the stadium, with the athletes waving at the crowd around them. The most representative (or the tallest..) athlete is vested with the honour of leading the delegation, carrying the national flag.
This was the Italian delegation:
Here is Gramellini’s comment:
“Behind the flag-bearer Valentina Vezzali, there comes a host of alert old men, who haven’t seen a gym for decades. The bowling team? Or maybe the canasta one? No, these are the executives of the Athletic Federation, those who are normally placed at the end of the group. Only for Italy the “differently young” are in the first row. And not just at the Olympic Games.”
The flag-bearer Valentina Vezzali remains famous, in addition to her achievements in fencing, for publicly telling Silvio Berlusconi “I’d very happily let you touch me”.
Aka: the most representative female athlete.
In the last 12 years, a new word has entered te international vocabulary as a synonym of ‘Italy’: after pizza, mandolino, mafia, now we also have “bunga bunga”.
For a quick review of the words’ meaning, click here (yes, it’s even got its own Wikipedia page. And doing a google search on it can keep you busy for a good 10 minutes). So much is the folklore attached to this expression, that people have tried to use it for business purposes. Here and here are examples.
Enters Nicole Minetti:
These two pictures refer to her before and after meeting Berlusconi.
After much ado, and in the effort to clear her own image from the allegation that she was organising the infamous bunga bunga parties, and providing ladies for the ex-PM’s pleasure (more on this here), Minetti has made plans to re-establish her image once (if) she will leave politics. She has just deposited the trademark for a new line of condoms.
The condoms’ brand? Bunga Bunga, of course.
The President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, has welcomed the Italian team back to Italy after the final match of the European Championship of football 2012. Highlighting how bad things looked like before the EuroCup started, for Italy, he pointed out what an excellent performance the 4-0 defeat against Spain represented. Well, something like that.
Let’s face it though: a 4-0 defeat is not good ground for celebrations. Unless you are a stats geek: it is in fact the largest winning margin in a Euro tournament final, so it makes for a change in the records. Spain has certainly the best team at the moment, but Italian players clearly underperformed: they looked tired, unfit, and they basically stopped playing after 60 minutes.
Prandelli, Italy’s coach, admitted he was wrong in calling for the worn-out players, leaving the fresher ones on the bench, but he had a great explanation for why he did that: “I could have been more courageous, and change some of the team players. But that would have been disrespectful for those who had taken us to the final.”
Take Thiago Motta, who replaced Montolivo at the 11th minute of the second half. After 6 minutes, his harmstring cracked, and he had to leave the pitch, leaving Italy with 10 players only: after that, the match turned into carnage.
Now: Motta could have rightly complained for not being respected by Prandelli, had the latter judged him unfit to play in the final. And Prandelli owed it to Motta to give him 6 minutes in the Euro final, although the match was then lost. It’s pure logic, people, and if you don’t see it, that’s why you will never coach a football team.
The Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, aka “the sober” (google “Mario Monti sober” and you’ll see why), also praised Italy’s performance.
He showed the country’s support for the team, by flying to Kiev to be present at the stadium for the final, sitting next to Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yanukovich, and other nice fella Lukashenko -and pondering “human rights, what human rights“?