Modena, Italy, Dec 19 | Collectible football stickers (figurine) have achieved such cultural cache in Italy that they are afforded dedicated museum space and now a comprehensive exhibition running into February: “Mondo calcio—Campionati e campioni della storia del calcio in figurina” (The World of Football: Championships and Champions in the History of Football, in Sticker Form).
As an Australian-born feminist and possessor of an educated Continental palate, author Germaine Greer does not often find an opening for digressions into sport (see also 16 Dec 03). But with the fastiduous Fabio Capello having been hired to graft Italian flair onto a stylistically maladroit England side, Greer spots the opportunity to write about the man from San Canzian d’Isonzo, Gorizia, whose name translates as “Mr. Hair.” (Dec 17)
Umberto Eco, 75, hung over from jet lag and downing Macallan whisky on doctor’s orders, parries with Financial Times writer Jan Dalley (Dec 15). But even in the gamut of conversation, from potential fiction projects to beauty to the yoke of slavery accepted when cracking open a lobster claw, Eco flirts just twice with football-related chatter. (Dec 16)
Izmir, Turkey, Dec 13 | A Fenerbahçe supporter in western Turkey, prompted by jerseys worn by Internazionale of Milan during a Champions League match on Nov 27, has announced that he will take legal action.
The shirts, modeled on St. George’s Cross, to some evoked associations with Knights Templar and, hence, the Crusades of the Middle Ages.
UC Albinoleffe of Bergamo, Italy, has gained notice of late—most recently at Guardian Unlimited—for leading Serie B despite a minuscule fan base from two small towns northeast of Milan. See the Ultras Leffe fan site for photographs of the support and Rai.tv for recent highlights.
Rome, Jan 12 | Within the sometimes cynical culture of calcio in Italy, the documentary “Matti per il calcio” (Mad about Football) offers respite from the latest “calciopoli” scandal: the dark dealings linking several of Italy’s major clubs to a pattern of match-fixing and referee seduction.
“Una cura di calcio” says the headline above the film review in La Rinascita della Sinistra. The article suggests the benefits of football in treating the mentally ill and clinically depressed, but also wonders whether the members of Gabbiano FC, the subjects of the movie, recapture some of the joy and life-renewing power that football was meant to provide.
Including figures from the world of football in the holiday-time presepe could not be sacreligious, as football in Italy certainly takes on characteristics of faith.