Jun 19, 2002

Yesterday Korea defeated Italy at the World Cup. Here in Rome a maxi-screen was set up in Piazza del Popolo for the masses. Animated and armed with blue shirts and flags, Italians were sure they’d win. At the end of the game, the streets were surrealistically silent. Collective depression set in.
Italy's players blamed Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno for their golden goal defeat to South Korea which saw them knocked out of the World Cup on Tuesday.The Italians, who had four goals disallowed in their last two group games, were angered by the ruling out for offside of a Damiano Tommasi goal in extra time and by the sending off of Francesco Totti, who picked up a second yellow card after he was ruled to have dived.

Korea's victory has been greeted with fury in Italy, where the referee and soccer's ruling body Fifa have been accused of fixing the match.
Ahn Jung-Hwan's goal sent Italy packing. Ahn, who plays for Perugia has now been dumped by them. Perugia president Luciano Gaucci said his club's decision to sack South Korea's Ahn Jung-Hwan was not for dumping Italy out of the World Cup but for his offensive remarks afterwards.

Here in Italy we are constantly bombarded by the media regarding THE SOCCER THIEVES. Some post-game polemics include: 1. the FIFA has no consideration for Italy and orchestrated the exit of their team 2. the referee was unfair, unexperienced and fat 3. alot of money will be lost in Italy with the defeat of the Azzurri (TV rights, playing cards, promotions, etc).

Soccer is one of the few things that unites disparate Italy, with the country grinding to a halt for every World Cup game and the players revered as national heroes.
The sport is so entrenched in the national psyche that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi named his political party after the terrace chant "Forza Italia" ("Go Italy").

Really, I'm not a soccer fan. It's difficult for me to get hyped up about A Bunch of Boys in Boxers running after a ball and then having to talk about it in a sauce of polemics for hours and hours on TV (and men make fun of women who watch soap operas!). But I keep up with major soccer events for 2 reasons:
1. My boyfriend is an Inter fan. So with a sports freak in the house, I've learned it's either Succumb or Subdue. You know, Defend or Offend. I find the latter less fatiguing and more entertaining. That's why I've come up with all kind of creative soccer theories that keep my boyfriend popping. (Men always get unnerved when women "knowingly" talk about sports.)
2. Sports is a form of politics and indicates collective values. Fairplay exists in sports in the same way that it exists in politics. It's also a major money making industry. Even before the World Cup began this year, I suggested to Pierluigi that he create a foundation in Africa with the sole purpose of developing soccer teams. Africans are blessed with a physical structure that predisposes great athletic capacities. So, if given proper nourishment and technical training, they could come up with some powerful players thus powerful national teams that could make alot of money for their so horribly poverty-stricken country. Because sports, more than being about sports, is about making money. Lots of money. And that's why I'm rooting for Senegal. I hope that they can develop a team strong enough to enable them to capitalize on their natural talents. Plus they dance and sing and smile on the field and represent those few players who give the idea that they're just HAPPY to be there.


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