The devastating social implication of Italy out of the 2018 World cup

It happened: the so called “Apocalypse” of the Azzurri is a reality. Italy won’t play the World cup, for the first time since 1958. Italian Minister for Sport, “Italian soccer needs to be reformed” 
AFP


Pubblicato il 14/11/2017
Ultima modifica il 15/11/2017 alle ore 11:12

The national goalkeeper, Gigi Buffon faces the camera in tears; the game is over, the miracle did not occur, the Azzurri won’t be playing next year in Russia. “It hurts that my last game with the national shirt has ended this way. It’s sad for the Italians, for our fans. We failed something important that goes beyond the world of soccer, it concerns the social sphere.” 

 

Super Gigi is right, what happened yesterday in Milan touches the nation in unexplored ways. Italy went to bed last night knowing it will be missing out on one true National ritual that traditionally involves the entire population. Because during the World Cup everyone feels Italian. Soccer fans belonging to different teams, people who could care less about 20 players running after a ball, children, politicians, inmates, in sum just about anyone in Italy gathers together to watch the game. The streets are empty and silent until a unison cry of joy, or anger mixed with unrepeatable swearwords, sweeps the street. Goaaal. We all do it, we all share it, we all live and love it. And now after tying with Sweden in the playoffs, this won’t happen, summer 2018 will be a different kind of summer.  

 

Last time Italy didn’t make it for the FIFA World cup was in 1958: 60 years ago, 15 world cup championships ago. But that was another time, literally another century. In the 88-year-long World cup history, out of 32 teams, Italy with her 4 titles won in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 has always been with, Brazil (5), Germany (4) and Argentina (2) among the top players: she was inevitable. Then Sweden came along. But what happened? It’s not that the Azzurri didn’t try: 27 shots on goal, 76% possession of the ball in 180 minutes of 2 games played, yet Italy never scored a goal in the blue and yellow net: a condemnation without appeal. We deserve staying home.  

 

Honor and wallet pierced 

A sports but also an economic disaster. The National team not only loses face, but also roughly 100 million euros. The simple access to the Russian World Championship would have guaranteed a profit of 8.2 million, and every time the winners took part in the round they would have got a bonus, which has been estimated for the winning national team to be 32.7 million. Which makes about 40 million. Of the FIFA cake - 345 million to be divided among the 32 participating national teams, the highest prize money ever allocated in the history of the World Championships -, Italy will not even get the crumbs. Let alone the revenues from technical sponsor, the royalties linked to merchandize sales, and tv rights. It should be noted that out of the 50 most viewed broadcasts ever, 49 are matches and 45 of the national team with a share close to 81%: over 17 million spectators. If all is added together, the economic damage is around 100 million.  

 

We had it coming 

It is no secret that the share of Italians playing in the national league teams is more and more laughable even if, identifying in the percentage of foreigners the source of the problems is one road, but not the only one. Statistics have an increasing number of young soccer players drop-outs, as they feel more and more discouraged by a system that, according to them, is not supportive, does not believe in them, namely does not invest in them. And at the national team level, we have not been touching the ball since 2006. With the clubs, we’ve been at a standstill since 2010, when Inter won the Championships. Truth is that having actually made it to Russia 2018 would have probably ended up in a despicable show. A very poor consolation in the face of a sport national tragedy. “Now we need 48 hours of reflection”, the Italian soccer federation claims. “We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the lack of qualification to the World Cup - comments the president Tavecchio - it is a sports failure that calls for a shared solution and for this reason I have summoned tomorrow a meeting with all the federal components”. And finally, the Minister of sport, Lotti “It is a very sad day from a sports point of view, it is clear that soccer must be reformed and that we must make choices that in the past years we have not had the courage to make,” the Minister concludes. 

 

The social implication of the defeat 

Now the social media is buzzing against one man, Ventura, CT of the National team who will go down in history as the mister who failed the Italian qualification to the 2018 World Cup, if this weren’t already enough, the fact that he hasn’t resigned in the aftermath of the defeat, adds even more anger to the millions of fans, Italians in disbelief who have seen their one pride, their one national summer ritual vanish in 90 minutes. This defeat is the litmus test of the Nation, in a moment when divisions are creeping up in the political field with the national election due sometime next spring, Italy much needed to feel one and united again, under the Azzurri’s Flag, this is why Captain Gigi Buffon is not mistaken when he says in tears that the National Team’s defeat will inevitably have social repercussions.  

 

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