Thursday, 10 October 2013

Maratona and Elsewhere #16 : “Bury my heart at Wounded Ankle”

Torino 0-1 Juventus 29.09.13

So we didn’t get the dry-aged prime rib we thought we had ordered. We didn’t get the bottle of Barolo either, but rather a table wine that tasted like it had actually been made from a table.

Derby day had begun pleasantly enough with a quasi-traditional English breakfast – and, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet and thereby making a terrible pun, my homemade baked beans were very well-received – but events soon took on a vaguely farcical quality. For future reference, whoever it is at City Hall who is responsible for public events might need to rethink the scheduling of a half-marathon on the morning of a derby. Driving to the stadium was an almighty pain in the arse.

Giving them the entire Curva Primavera put a nose or two out of joint, mine included. Eight-hundred-and-something of our Primavera members, some of whom are elderly and in no condition whatsoever for the Maratona, were obliged to either vacate their seats and move to the Maratona or not come to the game at all. The rationale behind this decision was a purely financial one; to shift more tickets. We, the feckless, irresponsible supporters, apparently never fill the stadium, so giving us fewer tickets was clearly what the doctor ordered. And what happened? The gobbi didn’t sell their entire allocation. Cairo’s customary reverse Midas touch in action.

And what of our visitors? They were virtually inaudible from where I was standing, though I understand that they were all that television viewers could hear. A similar divorce from reality was evident in some of their banners, the second largest of which proclaimed “MILANO”. Another simply read “011”, which probably serves as a reminder of the Turin dialling code when they call from home in Calabria and Puglia to buy tickets.

We, unusually, had a drummer. Any reader who is familiar with the joke about Ringo Starr and a foot spa will need no further explanation.

The game itself was less than gripping and doesn’t merit further discussion here. Our grand total of zero goal attempts on target speaks volumes. Yes, there were some controversial incidents, but as a spectacle it lacked quality.

Everyone saw that Carlos Tevez was offside and that Pogba’s goal should not have stood. Even the BBC and Paolo Bandini at “The Guardian” commented on it, and either of them commenting about Torino is about as rare as rocking-horse shit, so there is no need for further discussion here, either.

Some of the post-game tit-for-tat stuff was possibly of more, if academic, interest. Bastardo parruccato pluricondannato Conte said that Ciro Immobile should have been sent off for his challenge on Tevez, and that they would have won against 10 men even without the offside goal, considering their attacking superiority (see below). However, referee Mazzoleni was clearly wary of sending off half a Juventus player, and so Immobile stayed on the pitch. Tevez posted photos of his not-broken ankle on Twitter. Cairo pointed out that Marcelo Larrondo hadn’t posted any photos of his very-much-broken foot two weeks previously. [Miraculously, Tevez was fit to play for 55 minutes following Immobile’s 36th minute challenge and in the Champions League against Galatasaray three days later.]

Conte was also quoted as saying that they had attacked for 70 minutes, as if to reinforce their “we deserved to win despite being wrongly awarded the winning goal” party line. A quick visit to, however, reveals that possession was 52% to 48% in their favour. Let’s do some quick arithmetic, shall we? 52% of 90 minutes comes to 46 minutes and 48 seconds; that’s as near as “fuck you and the cat on your head, Conte” dammit one-third less than 70 minutes. Interestingly, if we apply the same rocket science to the number of scudetti Juventus claim to have won legitimately, we arrive at a figure not a million miles away from Zdenek Zeman’s “22 or 23 maximum”. As the completely impartial put it, Conte must have been a lot better at Italian at school than at mathematics.

His attempts to claim some kind of moral superiority having won yet another match thanks to a dubious refereeing decision made me more than a tad bilious. I seem to recall a certain Venaria Town manager who bore an uncanny resemblance to the Antonio Conte who received a 10-month ban last year for failing to report match fixing. Swore his innocence, but made a plea bargain. Strange behaviour for an innocent man, wouldn’t you think, entering a plea bargain?

Maybe he was just anxious because he’d never previously managed an entire derby against a team of 11 players? But his style (and, in fact, the so-called stile Juventus) is the diametric opposite of fair play, which often appears to be a foreign language in football. In Italy we have the concept of “furbizia”, which roughly translates as “cunning” but can be taken to mean ”gaining an unfair advantage by circumventing the rules and/or accepted conventions”. Examples of this could include agreeing a price with a tradesman and then paying less upon completion of the job, or, I don’t know, injecting football players with erythropoietin or conspiring to rig football matches or something (shrugs shoulders).

If honesty and fair play are not part of your make-up, it is very unlikely that you will be able to identify and appreciate these traits in – or transmit them to - other people. The skills underlying the ability to make a correct judgement are the same as those required to recognise a correct judgement. [See Kruger J, Dunning D. “Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1999); 77; 6: 121-34. Or, better still, read about it in Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science” (ISBN 978-0-00-728487-0).]

Juventus’ parent company, Exor, has total assets of €125.85 billion. We play in a renovated version of their old stadium. Our hands are down the back of the sofa, looking for money to rebuild Filadelfia, while the (juventino) Piero Fassino-led City Council leases Juventus 180,000 square metres of public land at Continassa at 58 cents per square metre for 99 years. (Alessandro Cavasinni at Gazzetta dello Sport reports that certain Council members will soon be up before the beak). Is this fair play in action?

Fassino also appointed a certain Giuseppe Alberto Zunino to be President of the Fondazione Filadelfia, though my understanding is that, thanks to online petitions (see and making our disgust crystal clear, the latter has declined the job. Why exactly would a gobbo Mayor choose a man with FIAT connections and a criminal conviction related to the construction industry to manage the reconstruction of the home of Il Grande Torino? Is this honesty in action?

Away from balance sheets and courtrooms, a vocal section of their support is of the opinion that there are no black Italians. This is a classic example of the aforementioned inability to recognise one’s own general ignorance – we even sold them a black Italian three months ago, porco dio! And, like their manager and their in-house comedy “newspaper” Tuttosport, these people will not be winning the Nobel Prize for Mathematics any time soon. Not as long as they believe, contrary to all available evidence, that 28 plus 1 equals 31.

Do Juventus, their owners, and their supporters all come from a parallel universe where there is no honesty or fair play, only furbizia? If they are visitors from another dimension – maybe David Icke and his tinfoil hat could tell us about the Agnelli, the Bilderberg Group, and extra-terrestrial lizards? – those who lack ignorance bring with them a peculiar soul-corroding cynicism. Granata is the antithesis of such cynicism.

Forza Toro sempre.

PS: Follow OperazioneDelleAlpion Twitter to learn more about how they got their old stadium on the cheap.

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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