“Football is nothing like cinema. His reaction was bizarre and way out of proportion. I hope he will be punished,” claimed Enrico Preziosi following Aurelio De Laurentiis' outburst at the Serie A fixture ceremony for the 2010-11 season. When someone gets to the stage of being told off by Genoa's patron Preziosi and also needs the blessing of Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, it means something seriously wrong happened.
The reasons behind De Laurentiis' reaction are pretty basic. The Azzurri President requested “special” treatment for all those clubs involved in European competition. That meant no direct clashes in the weeks between Champions League and Europa League games, which in his opinion would help Italian football restoring its leadership abroad. But as explained by FIGC President Giancarlo Abete, with seven teams set to feature in Europe and all necessary criteria to avoid derbies in certain dates, it was almost impossible to please everyone.
When Napoli were drawn to play Milan in Week 3 – on September 18, just before the Champions League's Matchday 1 – De Laurentiis clearly felt he had been cheated and his conspiracy theory exploded. He promptly stormed out of the ceremony while shouting all sorts of offences and jumping on the back of a random kid's scooter. “Get me out of here, now!” yelled the Azzurri President. It all seemed worthy of a Hollywood movie like ‘Escape from Alcatraz,' or at the very least the old-fashioned Neapolitan melodrama, a sceneggiata napoletana.
But is he right to complain about the calendario? Napoli haven't perhaps received the ideal fixture, but it looks like they will have a regular run of games all through the season without too many big clashes attached one to another. If De Laurentiis considers Napoli a big team, and we think he does, than Milan and Inter have reason to complain too.
The Rossoneri are arguably the most disadvantaged side, as they will be facing Lazio, Napoli, Udinese, Juventus and Palermo all within the first seven weeks. Not the best of starts when a team is still gaining shape. Had the Azzurri been handed that fixture instead, their conspiracy plot argument would have been even louder.
In the meantime, the teenager who gave De Laurentiis a lift revealed that the President didn't look too bothered as they were driving off from the Lega ceremony. “He seemed alright, not as angry as I thought. He told me he had a meeting for a good striker.” So despite being only a director, De Laurentiis seems to have played the protagonist role in this sceneggiata napoletana magnificently. The President managed to fool all his colleagues and the Press.
It seems reasonable to argue that the Partenopei owner has fully understood that calcio mechanism which makes him complain in order to gain advantages. But this fashion for lamentation should not be abused, as it might come back to bite him.
Despite being amusing, his behaviour was unacceptable and highly unprofessional. With his sceneggiate De Laurentiis is constantly undermining the credibility of calcio, just when the system needs it the most.