Archive for June 2010
Not a glorious day in the history of Italian football. After 34 years, and 4 years after winning the World Cup, Italy was today eliminated from the tournament at a very early stage. The media are not being nice to the Azzurri: the most moderate comment I have found is “Go home, in shame” (La Gazzetta dello Sport).
The Italian coach, Marcello Lippi, spoke after the match and took full responsibility for the dismal performance of the Italian team.
“It’s my complete responsibility -Lippi said shortly after today’s 2-3 defeat against Slovakia. – If a team comes to an event of this importance with fear in its legs, mind, heart, it means that the coach has not trained it well psychologically, technically and tactically. It is evident I did not prepare the team as I should have. I am very sorry. Thank you.”
Lippi will not be the coach of the Italian team any longer. He said he will not coach for a while. He will rest for a few months to decide what to do in the future.
Then, with a strange light in his eyes, Lippi added that he will retire into the Abbey of MonteCassino, to read books, to prey, and to play foosball with the monks.
He will also devolve 3,000,000 euros (i.e. the wage he received to train Italy for the World Cup) to sponsor young football talents in South Africa.
A couple of days ago, I posted on Facebook some vague ranting about the Italian Government’s last performances. Some people commented on that post, loosely sharing my feelings, but a friend of mine wrote something that caused some puzzlement in my bald head. Now, having spent the last 48hours dealing with World Cup flu (the famous infection that keeps you in bed with headache, while all your friends gather to watch the Football World Cup), I have had the chance to ponder a bit more over that comment.
My friend wrote: “It was just an effective example of how one can apply marketing to politics”.
For an Italian, this comment does not sound new. If anything, in fact, it sounds like an old advertisement. Supporters of the Italian PM have often repeated (over the past sixteen years) that Berlusconi is a self-made man, who created an empire from nothing, who runs the country as he runs his business, that is, successfully. Thus, the argument goes, when someone feels unpleased by Italy’s legal enactments, it is because they lack an understanding of the principles of economy. Enough, therefore, with being astonished/depressed about people still voting for Berlusconi: in fact, it turns out they are the ones who really understand how the market runs.
I confess, my knowledge of the market is scarce, to say the least. The friend who made the comment on Facebook recently turned from philosophy to human resources (is that really a change? mah..), so she probably has a more profit-oriented approach than I do. I know something about political theory though, and know that often in politics “the end justifies the means”. But that hasn’t helped me grasp the economic principles in action in Italy’s choices – given it is not clear what the end of most Italian policies would be.
So, I went and look on the Web for specialised articles, to find discussions about how Berlusconi applies effectively marketing to politics. The big guys of finance will tell me! – I thought, while sneezing and coughing. So I looked at the Financial Times, which gave me some confusing insight. Actually, seriously confusing.
A longer and more in-depth analysis told me that “the Italian economy continued to contract sharply in the third quarter of 2008 as exports fell sharply – declining at the fastest rate in three years – under the impact of a global slump which weighed down on foreign demand for Italian products, and pushed the Italian economy into its worst recession since at least 1975. Sales of Italian goods abroad fell 1.6 percent from the previous quarter, their biggest decline since 2005.” This is probably communist press, though.
I eventually looked into one of the most well-known liberal magazines in the market economy, The Economist. They will tell me why we should rejoice at Berlusconi’s capacity to apply effectively the market to politics. The Economist seems to have, in fact, a strong position regarding this point:
Why is it so hard to grasp the magic behind the PM’s policies? Why can’t we, backward-looking critics of Berlusconi’s rule, have the same financial understanding of his electorate? This makes me suffer, and my flu go worse. Especially because I want to give a strong reply to those who say that Berlusconi is not what he looks like. And to the allegation that he, at times, seems not really concerned with the common good. Is there any market expert out there who can help? Because, to be honest, Berlusconi is effectively applying something to politics, but I am not sure it is the market.