it's what my american friend tony texted me after italy was knocked out of the world cup yesterday. draws with paraguay and new zeland and a sensational lost to slovakia, placed azzurri at the bottom of the first group, an extra humiliation for the defending world champions.
coach marcello lippi, unable to repeat the heroics of 2006, made no excuses and took the blame. "i take all responsibility, there are no excuses because when a team comes to a match as important as tonight's with terror in their legs, their heads and their hearts, and don't manage to express themselves, it means that the coach hasn't prepared them in the right way." (...) "i didn't think we could win the world cup but i thought we would do better." (via smh)
the defeat brought an abrupt end to his time as a coach, as well as to the international career of the captain cannavaro, who announced his retirement from the team. it's all part of the game, isn't it? and this is awesome about the world cup: just when you think that a team is on top of the world, a surprise can happen. italians are finding hard to accept this concept, though. they're all shocked, this exit sounds devastating to them.
"italians lose wars as if these were football matches, and football matches as if these were wars." - winston churchill
the general reaction is delusion, disappointment, anger, shame. it's all about a detailed post-mortem of what went wrong on the local media now. i'm technical ignorant about soccer and its rules, but it doesn't take a genius to understand that the players were psychologically scared. it may be true that the real problem lies in the lack of creative players in the country, and that, due to this, the team didn't deserve to go through. everybody recognizes the end of an era. someone even points that this defeat mirros the rotten state of italian soccer. but why nobody thinks that there's a parallel between soccer decline and our country?
to me, this crisis of football is a mirror of italy in so many ways. just like the team, italy is disconnected from reality-rest of europe-the world. a provincial, uneducated, selfish and scared of immigrants population, who relies on the past and doesn't move ahead. and who reacts to foreign critics, even conservative ones, by thinking they come from envious sources.
lippi may have made the wrong choices, being arrogant and behaving as a stellar hero, but isn't it the same with our premier? someone who knows it all and who calls enemy anyone who dares disturbing him, being a judge or a leftist. it seems to me that lippi is just an escapegoat in this crucial exit from the tournament, like in society. immigrants take our jobs. chinese never die. communists are always around. but when it comes to finding solutions, these are nowhere to be seen. with the difference that the team will have a new coach now, while things will keep stalling in the country.
not that things were better before, but values were different. you would control yourself in public rather than insulting, you would feel uncomfortable about your lack of education. nobody who failed his high school exam twice would now sit at the lombardy regional council. someone who created a racist group on facebook, called 'bounce the immigrant back', would never be elected with the highest votes.
they say that in the 80's and the 90's our teams would regularly advance in all sort of european cups, that the best world players would come to play here. today we complain about loss of competitiveness, decrepit stadiums, bribe games and no opening up to frontiers. but italy won the world cup in 2006. yeah, sure. those kings are dead now. they were only luckier, just like italy in the middle of the crisis. the government keeps saying that worldwide economy hit italy less. we are only not noticing any difference, because we were going down for years, while others experienced a boom.
i hope that now that we've reached top bottom, people will examine their consciences. and if italians needed soccer to finally understand the gravity of the situation, god bless soccer for awakening them!