Posts Tagged ‘Italy’
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.
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“?
The Italianist has made it into the national press – here’s my article on Berlusconi’s resignation, which appears on today’s SMH.
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.