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If You Make Us Win, We’ll Beat You Up

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There are days, in Italy, when football receives as much attention as politics, and sometimes even more. Today it’s been one of those days. Here’s what happened. As part of Serie A Football League, yesterday evening Lazio faced the leading team, Inter FC, which was returning from a dramatic yet heroic qualification to the Champions League Final on last week. The stakes were quite high: Inter had to win so to keep the lead of the League, given that Rome FC, who had played in the afternoon, was one point ahead.

Rome FC and Lazio are both football teams of the city of Rome. Needless to say, Rome and Lazio’s supporters are arch-enemy. The football history of the city has always hinged around the Yellow-and-Red flag of Rome FC, and the Blue-and-White colours of Lazio. The former, celebrated by romantic songs and famous movies, the latter slightly less successful and with less liberal views. The differences have often resulted in inflamed clashes.

Before the match, Lazio fans found themselves in the strange situation of being able to help Rome win the League: in fact, had they won against Inter FC, Rome would have gone back to leading the ranking. Rome supporters, by the same token, had to get to grips with the idea of supporting Lazio’s victory, something which a true Roman does never do. However, Rome FC also feared that something fishy could have happened..

The result was that Inter FC won, 2-0. Inter is really rocking this year, and it would be hard for anyone to win against them. Nonetheless, someone noticed something strange happening during the match.

When Inter FC entered the stadium (Lazio was hosting the match), everyone cheered at them. I mean, both the Inter and the Lazio supporters. Then, some strange banners popped out on the terraces:

“Let’s step aside”

“League: Game Over”

People were surprisingly cheerful:

In a couple of occasions, Lazio’s keeper made a good save, and the Lazio supporters seemed to be booing him. Then, eventually, Inter FC scored. And this banner appeared:

Then someone started to think that things were not happening, so to speak, spontaneously. That is to say, that Lazio’s supporters did not want their team to win: more specifically, they did not want Rome to win. These doubts were buttressed, for example, by the fact that Lazio supporters were heard singing “Se segnate ve menamo!” (“If you score, we’ll beat you up!”), towards their own players.

Some comments on the web, today, seem to avail this possibility. Lazio’s fans are quoted from their blogs as pointing out that it would be hell for them to have to live in a Yellow-and-Red Rome, following Rome FC’s victory in the League. Nor could they accept the constant “sfottò“, the teasing that the Rome fans would throw at them if Rome won the League. Rome fans, on the other hand, are now yelling their rage against the Biancocelesti (White and Blue) in every corner of the media.

Politicians have stepped in too, to comment on the match. Maurizio Gasparri, President of the Senators of the PDL, and strenuous Rome FC’s fan, remarked that yesterday “a page of shame was written”. Cicchitto, from the same coalition, defined the match “a depressing scene”. Paolo Cento, President of the Rome FC Club of the Chamber of Deputies (!), highlights that what emerged from yesterday’s match is “the way football is managed”. A prompt reply arrived from the President of Lazio Club of the Chamber of Deputies (!), who highlights that Rome would have done exactly the same thing to Lazio. Gavino Angius, from the PD, went even further in stressing the ethical implications of the match, and called for sanctions against Lazio.

I think it’s a bit too much, Gavino. I don’t think that Lazio players are to be blamed. Nor, in my humble opinion, should Lazio fans. These things are part of football, I am afraid.

“Lazio fan, ask Santa Claus to bring you 3 points”

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Written by TheItalianist

03/05/2010 at 23:18

Too Much Tolerance?

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The New Year starts for The Italianist in the same way in which 2009 ended, that is, with issues of colour. Today’s news report violent clashes in southern Italy among immigrant workers and the local population, in Rosarno, an anonymous village in Calabria with a population of about 15,000. It is interesting to see the way in which the italian media are covering the story, showing black men throwing stones at police, people screaming, white people saying ‘look what the Africans are doing to our town’, a white woman having a miscarriage because of the violence, and the usual articulated comments by italian politicians.

All the media seem quite keen to show what’s happening, but not so much to explain why it’s happening. Unsurprisingly, what we are offered is the government’s umpteenth lecture about the evils of immigration: we’ve let them in, they  don’t want to work and only bring problems. Let’s focus on colours: white is good, black is bad. And now, some hot girls dancing in a bikini. (This has been a brief tour into the mind of the average italian tv news director).

It doesn’t take a big effort, though, to understand a bit more about what the events in Calabria reveals. Yet, often even a small effort seems too big, and it’s easier to go back to the “white=good, black=bad, we’re white, we’re good, they’re black, they’re bad”.

It wouldn’t take much to find out that these black workers work 12 hours a day picking up oranges in the field, and are paid 20 euros per day. It wouldn’t take much to discover that they live in conditions which would be unbearable to anyone. This is how they sleep, where they wash, where they live sharing tiny barracks among 10-15 people:

It wouldn’t take too much to realise that these black workers live in conditions of slavery. Their bosses keep from their wages the costs of transport of goods, of the (scarce) food they offer, of accessing fresh drinkable water (see here, in italian). These immigrants receive no support for learning italian language, which leaves them unable to integrate with the local communities. Nonetheless, it is impressive to see that many of them are able to articulate their thoughts in a better italian than the locals.. The business they work for is run by local criminal organisations, which in Calabria is the ‘Ndrangheta, whose pockets get the profits of this enormous exploitation. The ‘Ndrangheta enjoys this overly cheap working force, keeping them in the dark, unregulated, with no hope for future integration, and with the constant threat of being sent back home, of losing even this miserable wage. Or simply being killed.

It wouldn’t even take a great effort to see that the riots in Rosarno did not start out of the blue: the night before, two immigrants had been knee-capped by some people from a car; other two had been hit with bars and are now in hospital in serious conditions. No one knows who did this, but rumours have it that  the good whites, not the bad blacks, did it. During the riots, an immigrant has been run over (not by accident) by a car guided by a local. The locals can be rightly upset by havin their town, windows, cars smashed by this angry mob. But who is to be blamed for all this violence?

It wouldn’t take a big effort to realise that what’s happening in Calabria is the result of a more complicated reality than the simple “black=bad” equation. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, the Italian Government does not help making things clearer. Roberto Maroni, the Minister of Home Affairs, has ben prompt to condemn the violence taking place in Rosarno. Let’s remember his face, and his wonderful red glasses:

For Maroni, the problem is clear: we have shown too much tolerance towards the immigrants. Weve been overly generous in accepting these people, and now it’s time for a clampdown (again?) against illegal immigration. I wonder whether Maroni eats oranges, and asks himself where they come from. I wonder if his brain is crowded with images of arian people picking up oranges behind the corner of his house in Northern Italy, waving the italian flag.

But I have to admit that it takes some courage to say Italy has been too tolerant towards immigrants. See this.

Similar comments about the riots in Rosarno have been made by the famous Italian diplomats, the Minister of Defence, Ignazio La Russa (who looks quite happy with the clampdown)

and Maurizio Gasparri (who yet remains focused on thinking about women’s tits)

Once again, according to the italian media it turns out that the blacks are to be blamed. There’s no Ndrangheta, in Italy; there’s no slavery; there’s no racism. Last week, the Inter FC striker Mario Balotelli, who apart from being a great scorer, also happens to be black, expressed publicly his disgust for being constantly targeted by racist insults from the public when playing in Verona. The next day, the major of Verona (a member of the Northern League) hit back at Balotelli, labeling him “immature”.

Don’t abuse their tolerance, Mario.

Written by TheItalianist

09/01/2010 at 05:09

Crucifixes and crucifictions

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Both national and international news are reporting a decision of the European Court of Human Rights  against crucifixes in public schools in Italy. The ruling has caused an immediate outcry of anger and disdain towards what, for many, is a threat to Italy’s cultural foundations. TheECHR specifies that the presence of the crucifix, “which is impossible not to notice in classroom,could be easily interpreted by students of any age as a religious symbol”; and this would make them feel they are being educated in an environment carrying the mark of a specific religion. This, in turn, would violate “the right of the parents to educate children as to their own wishes”, and also the liberty of religions of pupils. More details of this story can be found here, here and here.

Italian politicians have joined their voices in joining the Vatican’s voice in condemning the ECHR’s decision. The Vatican has commented that the ruling is “myopic and misled”. A full version (in italian) can be found on the CEI website. Politicians have followed suit.

Here’s a brief selection of these comments. While reading them, keep in mind Italy is ruled by Berlusconi. The italian magazine Oggi published last year some pictures of the italian PM discussing catholic values with the young generations, warning them of the risk of losing our cultural foundations.

berlusconi_harem

 

 

 

 

Yes, that’s him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gabriella Carlucci, from PDL, the right-wing coalition, underlines that “the crucifix is a symbol of Italy’s history and culture, hence of our country’s identity, and it constitutes the symbol of principles of equality, tolerance, and our State’s secularism”. Someone might spot a contradiction in the appeal to secularism to defend the crucifix. But she has made her point. For those of you who don’t know her, here’s a picture of Carlucci:

gabriella_carlucci_0001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of the more popular Benito (the one on the left in this picture), has commented that the ECHR’s decision tends to “cancel our Christian roots,  and to block a process of real integration. We are creating an identity-less Europe. Therefore, it is now urgent to insert the principles of Christianity in our Constitution”. One might point out that if those principles are not in the Constitution, there must be a reason. But she has made her point too. Here’s a picture of a younger Alessandra campaigning for European identity:

alessandra_mussolini_playboy_it_cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next comes Mara Carfagna, Italy’s charming Minister for Equal Opportunities: “The crucifix is not only a religious symbol, but it’s also a testimony of a thousand-year tradition, of values shared but the entire Italian population.” She then adds: ” Others, and surely not the presence of a crucifix in classrooms, are the real limitations to individual liberty. I am thinking of the burqa and the niqab.” Well said, Minister of Equal Opportunities. It’s hard to find a picture that gives the right credit to the values we all share, and that she embodies. I try this one anyway:

mara-carfagna 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davide Boni, from the Northern League, warns that ” people who cancel their own history are doomed to lose themselves, selling themselves to cultures which are stranger to them. [These cultures] share nothing with those who took part in building and raising not only our own country but Europe itself. But now, that very Europe expects to wipe the slate clean.”

Boni has always been committed to the idea of preserving the values of our people: he is the mind behind the Northern Leagues’ proposal to ban kebab and foreign food from italian cities. This is Davide, the polenta supporter:

Boni

 

 

 

 

As his t-shirt points out, “Women from the Northern League are the best”.

 

 

 

 

 

Faced with the ECHR’s ruling, Maurizio Gasparri wonders: “What kind of Europe is this? Surely it is not by denying the identity or history of an entire people that minorities’ rights are guaranteed . We are faced with a lay drift that has nothing to do with religious freedom. Italy is a country that bases, and recognizes, itself in the values of Christianity. The crucifix is a symbol of all that. We reclaim its presence in the schools as in all the institutional places.” He concludes, “We will consider the issue of whether to maintain those institutions [the European Union?] that cost us so much.” This is Gasparri:

igor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ups, I got confused, sorry. I mean, this is Gasparri:

gasparri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Italy declared illegal immigration to be a crime, Gasparri said he was proud of that decision. However, the Vatican criticised the Government’s decision as being against the values of Christianity. To make things even, Gasparri probably suggested that every boat shipping immigrants to Italy should have its crucifix. (He didn’t, actually.)

Hard times, then, for our traditions. A Facebook group was born immediately after the ECHR’s decision became public. The group’s name is  “You take the crucifix off the wall? I’ll cut your hands off!”. (“Tu stacchi il crocifisso dal muro? E io ti stacco le mani!”). An updated version of the Christian value, in which we all recognise ourselves, “if a man slaps your cheek, offer him the other cheek to slap”.