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My Italian Love Affair

It is no secret that I am American. But it is also pretty well known that I support Italy when it comes to football. I mean I fell in love with football because of the Italian national team. Also, did I mention I was American? Yeah. Go USMNT. Or something. I mean I think I’d rather be forced to support the San Marino national team or something, at least they try. But as I watched the Italians singing “Fratelli d’Italia” on Friday, including our own De Sciglio, my heart was stirred again in the way that I first fell in love with football, and I was certain that this truly is my Italian love affair.

Seriously, what's not to love?

I don’t know if it is Bruce Arena’s Neanderthal soundbytes or the overall hatred so many soccer-crazed Americans have of Jürgen Klinsmann, despite their recent and first ever U-20 CONCACAF win being at least partially due to his influence & restructuring of the USA youth system. First ever. But I know that USA mens soccer for me is about as enjoyable as eating styrofoam. (Have you ever tried that, by the way? The little beads of styrofoam get stuck everywhere, it’s so annoying.) Or maybe it’s the alarmingly bad commentators and coverage of “soccer” here in the States. Like the correction the New York Times had to make on their original writeup for Cesare Maldini’s obituary. They literally printed that Milan won our first European Cup in 1963 by defeating the Portuguese National Team. That really happened. So did the MLS.

Seriously, America?

So call me a snob, but the Italian national team stole my heart, and they don’t seem to be giving it back anytime soon. (There was a brief period under Conte’s reign of terror in which my heart was frozen to protect it from the pain, but it has since been thawed and is beating loud and strong once again.) From every dull performance, just eeking out a result, to the times they leave qualifying or advancing to the last possible minute and then go through, to the times that they don’t make it, and my heart breaks…my red and black blood takes direction from the Azzurri. Win, lose, draw, get bitten, or robbed by a crooked ref, my heart beats for the team that hails from a nation halfway around the world. And don’t forget the Italian national anthem. It is literally the best anthem ever. It’s so peppy, but with such a serious message, “We’re prepared to die.”

There are definitely plenty of bad things about Italy. Racism, sexism, organized crime, football scandals, Bunga Bunga parties, superstition, violence against women, too many McDonald’s, so many short men (sorry guys), Old Boys’ Clubs (particularly those with power,) and more. But to be fair, Americans elected Donald Trump as our president, so my adopted country still wins my football allegiance. Also, this.

Okay, if they have to make a video to teach men not to hit women, that's not good.

At the end of the day, it’s the tactics, the passion, and the very Italian-ness of the Azzurri that fuels my love. From Buffon belting out the Italian national anthem full force despite being completely tone deaf, to the heartbreak of a penalty shootout loss to the exquisite joy of lifting the World Cup, I watch Italy with a love that transcends common sense and geography. They will always be my first love, the one I never forget.

This post inspired by the music of Inno di Mameli

Our next match is
Pescara vs. Milan
Sunday, April 2 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)