Monday, 25 March 2013

Maratona and Elsewhere #8 : “Will be held indoors next time if the new Pope hasn’t booked the Church hall.”


Torino 1-0 Lazio - 17.03.13

A fair amount of “& Elsewhere” to be had this week.

The new Pope is from Asti. He’s local. Well, his family is, anyway. I know he supports San Lorenzo. Not enough Granata in their shirts for my liking.

Much comment in various media regarding racism in football of late. I feel I should comment.

Inter were sanctioned by our good friends - the lovely, transparent, cuddly UEFA - for alleged racist chanting during their defeat on away goals to Tottenham Hotspur in (as “The Fiver” in The Guardian calls it) the “Big Vase”. Lazio were instructed by lovely, transparent, cuddly UEFA to play their next two European home ties behind closed doors for similar reasons.  Please don’t think I’m an apologist for either Inter or Lazio. Clear that from your mind.

A €50,000 fine for the season thus far is peanuts to Inter. That’s a week’s wage to a guy who isn’t good enough for the first team. It’s less than the Spurs fans paid for their tickets to the game. Moratti probably spends more than that each week having his teeth yellowed.

But if LTCUEFA are vicious jungle beasts, Lega Serie A are pussies. The gobbi were fined €4k – four grand! - last week for their charming “If you jump, Balotelli dies”, and for their assertion that there are “no black Italians”. As a teacher, I must be careful when discussing the educationally subnormal. For the record, I usually blame the parents.

[Not that the gobbi actually watch Balotelli in the act of playing football when they embarrass themselves: he was a Manchester City player between 12 August 2010 and 31 January 2013 and he probably hasn’t visited their stadium on many more occasions than I have (one).]

The response of the Laziali (whose own fascist tendencies – and, indeed, history – are well-documented) to their LTCUEFA sanction was trenchant, to say the least. Banners at their previous game addressed to the President of LTCUEFA left little to the imagination (quote/translation from Paolo Bandini in “The Guardian” on March 11):

"Heysel, 29-05-85," read the banner on display at the Stadio Olimpico this weekend. "You had the strength to carry on playing … the courage to celebrate in front of 39 dead. Platini, you pig, we won't take moral lessons from you."

At the Stadio Olimpico in Turin, I can happily report a shared gut reaction regarding Platini but no evidence of racism or sexism. The only important colour is that of our shirts. I have attended possibly 40 games at the Olimpico thus far and have not once heard any derogatory singing or chanting of a racial nature, and I’m in the Curva with the Ultras. This is where the singing begins. Compare that with Venaria Town who have been averaging a fine every other home game for racist chanting for the last two seasons. This is not as widely reported as it could be (possibly due to the Agnelli family owning “La Stampa”), so I attach this link again:


For a team owned by a company whose wealth is largely derived from the blood, sweat, tears and occasional death of immigrants, that’s shameful. Stile Juventus.

They also like to sing a charming ditty about Vesuvius erupting and burying Napoli in lava. We play Napoli next. I’ll let you know if I hear anyone in the Maratona singing it. I very much doubt that I will.

And so to the game.

Snow. All day. It made for a pretty spectacle, but a pretty unspectacular match. The weather, combined with the late kick-off (8.45pm) on a Sunday, didn’t make for a capacity crowd, but I thought the turn-out was quite impressive in the circumstances. Minimal away support; can’t imagine why.

Maximum support in the stadium from the Granata women, however. In their thousands, as always. And very vocal. These women and their children – some of whom kick a ball around under the Curva during the match and simply exude football – are the soul and lifeblood of this club. Without them, what do we have? Macho bullshit. Moneyball. There are no female equivalents to Platini and Blatter, because a woman wouldn’t be stupid enough to destroy something beautiful for cash and power. Unless her maiden name was Roberts, perhaps.

Glik and Rodriguez were restored as the central defensive partnership following Angelo Ogbonna’s nightmare against Cagliari and injury against Parma. Not many complaints about this. In fact, instead of a mooted summer move to Lazio, at least one commentator suggested that on recent form we’d prefer to see him at Venaria Town. (Agent Ogbonna, all will be forgiven.)

Referee Paolo Tagliavento deserves special ridicule mention for a number of reasons. Carlo Quaranta on Toro.it described him as “stroppy”; a Diego Bedeschi on Facebook noted that he told il gattone Gillet in the tunnel to pull his shorts up. (Cue disbelieving look from goalkeeper who is 34 next birthday and has no doubt been able to dress himself for a while.) Kamil Glik was so incensed about being booked for simulation that he uploaded a photo of Lazio’s ‘keeper Marchetti’s challenge on him to Twitter: (https://twitter.com/kamilglik25/status/313773013508165633/photo/1).

My preferred back four was in place, Gazzi and (Man of the Match) Brighi in the middle, Cerci wide right, so far so good… there was some head-scratching about Santana/Barreto/Meggiorini, considering the conditions probably warranted a more direct, Birsa-crossing-to-Bianchi approach. That said, it was pointed out to me that in conditions that make playing football impossible it’s sensible to pick somebody who can’t play football. No prizes for guessing to which player my colleague was referring.

Three very welcome and unexpected points. The next six matches on the Granata agenda, where points will probably be few and far between, will be tough – Napoli, Roma and the gobbi at home and visits to Bologna (a six-pointer, with both clubs – and four others – on 35 points at the time of writing), Fiorentina and Milan. A win here, a draw there, and it won’t hurt too much. Watching it will be a challenge, though. Time can pass slowly. As it does as the dentist, for example. Fingers crossed.

Said three points for Toro were, clearly, not welcome in the opinion of Lazio President Claudio Lotito, who can, quite frankly, fuck himself. He bitched and moaned after the game that the pitch wasn’t fit for play. I would like to make four observations:

  1. he wouldn’t have bitched and moaned about the pitch had Lazio won the game;
  2. he asked for the game to be moved back from the original 3p.m. to 8.45p.m. because his team played on the previous Thursday and needed an extra few hours to recover. We had the Winter Olympics here in 2006.
  3. his club went bust but miraculously stayed in Serie A but we were demoted and had to rebuild from scratch;
  4. whose team played in white on Sunday when it was snowing?
Next up, Napoli – at 2100 hours on Easter Saturday (shakes head).

Don’t forget to put your clocks forward.

Steve

Steve is a season ticket holder who moved to Torino in 2009 after meeting a Torinese lady called Raffaella on Facebook - you can follow Steve on Twitter here.

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