Meet Roberto Scousia.
Can we all just take a moment and appreciate the way Roberto Martinez says centre half… https://t.co/icbFAQaFbB
— Football Jokes (@LaughingFooty) November 10, 2015
As everyone is no doubt aware, the investigation into match fixing allegations in Italy’s Serie A led to the punishment of the top four clubs, Juventus, Fiorentina, Lazio and AC Milan, with the league title being given instead to Inter Milan. The punishments for the clubs varied, from Juventus’ severe reprimand of 2 previous league titles, demotion to Serie B and a 30-point deduction in the upcoming season, to AC Milan’s 15-point penalty and ban from the UEFA Champions’ League. However, following the various clubs’ appeals, some reduction in penalties have been awarded, with AC Milan not only having their penalty slashed to 8 points, but also being reinstated in the Champions’ League. If the BBC are watching closely, in line with their generous resurrection of previous cult classics a la Doctor Who, perhaps they should consider a resurrection of another famous ’70s Saturday evening show: Silvio’ll Fix It?
So Italy have taken the title for a fourth time, bringing their tally to four, edging them out as the best in Europe, and ending what should be acknowledged as one of the worst tournaments in recent memory. For the second time in its history, the final was settled on a penalty shoot-out, the feeling of the fans towards the end soured by a red card for Zinedine Zidane for headbutting Marco Materazzi.
There can be little doubt that the tournament was marred by some dire games, poor refereeing decisions, strange FIFA interference, and a generally lack-lustre performance from many of the teams, particularly towards the end of the tournament. Can any blame be apportioned for this? Or was it simply the luck of the draw that this tournament was destined to be poor viewing for the spectators? Of course, credit should be apportioned where it is due, and both the hosts and the fans did an excellent job in ensuring the tournament was shrouded in a carnival atmosphere, and the focus for the media could be left to the football.
As is perhaps to be expected in this day and age, everywhere you look at the moment there’s football, football, football. The World Cup is more than just a spectacle, it’s a regular event and therefore presents an opportunity. An advert which doesn’t in some way link the Beautiful Game to washing powder, mortgages or anti-wrinkle cream is almost refreshing. Of course, the World Cup would not be so all-pervasive without the weight of corporate advertising and media on the bandwagon, but there are some underlying psychological effects, which are being harnessed as only corporate business knows how.
Just think how many millions view the games, particurlarly of the home nation; viewing figures suggest around 19 million households tuned in to watch the England v Portugal match, and that number masks the people watching with friends, at home or in public. Of course, cutting away the naturally avid football fans leaves a significant number simply watching to support their national side, but how does this turn into something of a fever? The rampant nationalism provoked at times staggers belief, and often goes far beyond the football itself. Finding sensible criticism of England’s performance at the World Cup is some achievement, whilst in the immediate aftermath of England’s exit, jingoistic slurs against Portuguese players and Argentine referees were on the tip of many tongues.