Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Breaking the bonds with mother Italia

Lucas Neill protests after Fabio Grosso is awarded the penalty In light of Italy's entry into the cup final, I note Tim's description of a discussion he had with his barber:
I just had my haircut at the local barber, an Italian guy. Asked him if he was following the soccer. Not since last week, he said, meaning, not since Australia was eliminated. So are you barracking for Italy now? I asked. Mate, he said. Fucken Italy. Free fucken haircuts for everyone if Italy loses.
I guess Tim and his mates will be paying for a shave still. Whatever loyalties our barber did have to Italy, they have been seriously strained by Fabio Grosso's imfamous dive in the final minute of the game into extra time which resulted in Italy's winning penalty kick.

Not just him. Many Australians following the cup saw red (even though it was a foolish challenge by Neill before Grosso's dive), but more surprisingly this included a lot of Italian Australians (if we may use this term)! Most of the cafe proprietors here (who, in Adelaide, are extremely likely to be of Italian descent) say their Italian-descent customers are unhappy with the Azzurri. Certainly this was clearly the story last night at San Georgio's. I understand even Anthony LaPaglia has been highly critical of the Italian team and has withdrawn his support for it.

Let's rewind to a couple of weeks before the cup began. In the Rundle Arcade hub, some guys were selling specially-designed Australia-Italy memorabilia. For example, they had soccer shirts with Azzurri colours and team emblems on one half and the Socceroos' on the other. Perfect for Italian Australian soccer fans who could support both of their favourite teams at once. Then when the two teams faced off in the quarter finals, I'm sure it was a tough call for them to decide which one they'd support. I'm not sure if the coin landed on the Socceroos side before the game or it was the bad sportsmanship perceived of the Azzurri that won the Socceroos support after the game, but Italian Aussies weren't happy!

Apparently the world cup is not just an amazing competition capable of arousing incredibly strong emotions, but has been a catalyst for breaking the vestiges of those bonds many Italian Australians have with mother Italia – certainly in Adelaide anyway.

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Blogger geoff said...

Lisa, I've enjoyed your World Cup insights and like you, the magic moment of the whole thing occurred for me before the Cup itself, in those defining moments when Schwarzer got us in with his skill and saves. Unforgettable!

I can't comment on Melbourne's Italian community, how they've taken to their team cheating Oz out of the Cup, because I've been avoiding Lygon St. The Greek coffee and cakes in Lonsdale St are a fair substitute, for the moment.

But I suspect if you've followed soccer for a lot longer than me, then cheating is ingrained in the psyche and somehow acceptable, because success at the top level is unlikely without it.

Pity, because it's otherwise a fascinatingly beautiful game. Way to fix it? Remove the potential for a poor decision by the ref to be so critical, by allowing higher scores. Widen the goal? I'd like to see them do away with the contrived "off-side" rule. But it won't happen, while the cheats prosper.

Let 'em celebrate, in Milan and Lygon St. We'll just eat cake (Greek) and enjoy our own footy!

July 10, 2006 11:22 am  
Blogger Lisa said...

Woah feisty words :) I bet come 2010 you'll be just as hooked once again! Last night the Sky City was so packed full of screaming Italian Adelaideans it was impossible to sing La Marseilles over the top of them -- so we left! Then seeing Zizou's vicious headbutting though I was so disappointed -- not a great way to end one's career... And it made me care less and less which way the game went in the penalty shootout!

July 10, 2006 12:01 pm  
Blogger geoff said...

Forget 2010 - we're gearing up for BIG celebrations come THAT ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER 2006! We are expecting a gloriously exhilerating win over the absolute best team in the competition for the whole year, except that one day when trad Victorian street-cunning will break the hearts of all Adelaide!

Go Dees...!! (but shhh, we're trying to keep the lid on it!)

July 17, 2006 4:16 pm  

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