Friday June 22 2012
The English Job

When Italy were paired with England in Euro 2012, Susy Campanale’s heart sank, but it had precious little to do with the football.

I am, like many of our regular readers on this website, an Italian who grew up in England. I have always identified myself as Italian, have an Italian passport, watch television from the peninsula with the aid of a satellite dish and naturally cheer on the Azzurri in any sport or Eurovision Song Contest. I am bi-lingual and bi-cultural, for this gives us the unique perspective of seeing both nations simultaneously as insiders and outsiders. This is why the idea of an Italy-England quarter-final is deeply frightening. We know what’s coming.

We’ve seen it so many times before and now it’s us in the firing line. Within minutes of the ludicrously lucky win over Ukraine, friends and co-workers were already texting Anglo-Italians with jokes about pasta, boring defensive football, match-fixing, pizza puns and switching sides in World War II. The media are even worse and it is not just reserved to the tabloids now. ITV presented the game with France by name-checking Waterloo and the Battle of Agincourt – you know, relevant, up to date references. You may say that all nations do this – I am here to tell you they do not. Italian media mention other football matches, but certainly not the Roman invasion of Britain or the fact we gave you aqueducts. Because that would be daft.

It’s really no better when the English get down to discussing Italian football. I wonder if we can place a bet on how long it will take articles or television intros to mention the dreaded c-word, even though catenaccio hasn’t been used since the 1960s. Of course the pundits will confidently state that Italy will shut up shop, park the bus, focus on the counter-attack and play negatively. We’ll probably see all that on Sunday, but mainly from Roy Hodgson’s team. When the Azzurri do it, that’s ‘negative,’ but for England it’s ‘determined, solid and gritty’. Also, time-wasting and diving is ‘cheating’ for Italians, but ‘clever play’ by the English.

These are people who are paid to watch football for a living. You’d think when going on to the television, radio or newspapers they would invest a little time in some research. Instead, I heard ex-Inter player Paul Ince tell radio listeners “Andrea Pirlo is good for his age.” He turned 33 last month! When did that become old? Oh, I forgot, Italy have an ‘ageing squad’ at all times, regardless of facts and statistics. It is just one of the many clichés we have to put up with when watching Italian football discussed in Britain.

Then there is the other issue that surely not only the Italians, but all non-English people in England will have spotted. It’s fortunate England rarely win anything, because they are really not good at handling success. Already the smugometer is off the charts, squeezing past Sweden and Ukraine with a large dose of luck and a big slice of cynicism for some reason has made them favourites for the tournament.

Pundits have been talking about a semi-final with Germany since Tuesday night, as if beating Italy were a foregone conclusion. I realise this isn’t the strongest Azzurri side in history, but I’ve got a newsflash for you – neither is it the best England team. The performances in the group phase showed little to be frightened of other than the pace of Theo Walcott and Hodgson’s remarkable luck. I even read that if the tie goes to penalties, England are certain to win because they have “such a strong goalkeeper in Joe Hart.” No mention whatsoever of Gigi Buffon, then? Good to know he merits so little recognition.

Most of all, my heart sank because if England do get the win, then we will literally never hear the end of it. And I am not misusing the term literally. Still banging on about 1966 at every available opportunity, the English react to success much the same way they do to the appearance of sunshine – strip to comedy shorts, get very drunk, go extremely red and lose all sense of proportion or decency. You’ve heard of sore losers? Those are the Italians with a conspiracy theory ready for every occasion. The English, however, are sore winners, rubbing people’s faces in their every tiny victory.

This blog may seem bitter to some of you, and I agree it probably is, but the other Italians in England will know exactly what I mean. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a dark few days or even years, so let’s remember we have each other. Forza ragazzi.

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Have your say...
I agree the tone was/is strong but our feelings are strong, most of Anglo Italians and Italian immigrants have been exposed to stupid underhanded comments and abuse, the main culprits being the media who influence unintelligent narrow minded bigots. However, you do seem a descent chap mark (one of the good ones) but you must understand that most of us have always been made to feel outsiders, that's why we react the way we do when ever England play. I'd love to support England but I feel I can't.
on the 26th July, 2012 at 7:52pm
I didn't claim to be a victim.

My objection was to the tone and the generalising in the article and the comments below. There was no "the majority are good people" there. (thanks for saying that by the way)

After the game the English media were unanimous in saying we'd been outclassed by the Italians. And how ludicrous a comment is: "it’s going to be a dark few days or even years".

Don't judge the whole country by a few yobs in Bedford or some tabloid hack in Wapping
on the 26th July, 2012 at 2:04pm
How would you know about being born in England of Italian parents. I'm not saying all the English are the same the majiority are good people (im married to one) but I've come across my fair share of arrogant, bigoted recist comments directed at my family and me as far back as I can remember. So don't give me your sanctimonious "we're the victims here" becaus you don't know the half of it. You have to experience it to understand exactly how we feel and football seems to brings out the worst.
on the 25th July, 2012 at 9:04pm
Nonsense. When the Daily Mirror (edited by an Irishman - Piers Morgan) did the "Achtung Surrender!" headlines at Euro 96, the rest of the British media & the England squad condemned it. Such jingoism is deplored by the vast majority of English people. Yet Susy, you & many of the commentators on here, think that is the prevailing of every Englishman & woman. Do you not see how offensive that is? An Italian newspaper portrayed Balotelli as King Kong - should we take that as the view of Italy?!?
on the 19th July, 2012 at 8:54pm
Its'nt it rich the comments of "racists, bigots" coming from people who refer to the war every time England plays either Italy or Germany, You're the arrogant ones whether it's done in jest and with tung in cheek, IT'S NOT FUNNY!!! it's intimidating to many other nationals. So shut up and stop being so bloody arogant your selves!!!
on the 19th July, 2012 at 12:51pm
This article is the biggest load of barely disguised bigotry and racism I've ever read (and so are the comments).

So the Italian media and fans aren't "arrogant"? What a joke!

The real arrogance is from people who have grown up in England - been given every chance in life that they've had by this country yet still turn their nose up at us.

And you wonder why English people get angry with you

Oh and well done on getting spanked in the final! Now that DID make me laugh!!
on the 13th July, 2012 at 3:37am
I find the anti-English tone of many of these comments disappointing. My grand-parents all emigrated to Scotland, initially, from Italy about a hundred years ago and my parents kept the links to Italy and a sense of Italian identity alive. But, there is a bigger picture here. For those with a similar backgorund to me, we need to remember that this country gave our grand-parents a home and a living in a way which Italy could not and treated them well during a war Britain did not start.
on the 9th July, 2012 at 8:59am
Italys Pirlo had Gerard running around!! lol Made Germany who were favorite to win look less than average and very desperate.... I have high hopes for tonight's game, we had a draw with Spain in the opening game so I'm hoping tonight we smash them! Being a Bedfordian Italian, I'm sorry to say I couldn't represent England in any major football tournament...your fans let you down especially after the racial abuse I got after the England V Italy game.
on the 1st July, 2012 at 4:06pm
I am always puzzled by the smugness of the English. They've won almost nothing, yet imagine themselves qualified to pass judgment on those better than them.
on the 30th June, 2012 at 8:59pm
Great article, being half Italian half English myself this really rang a cord with me. I am quite fed up of the likes of Alan shearer and his cohorts not to mention Andy gray on the radio constantly predicting the defeat of Italy. I also feel it is not the greatest Italian side but are these pundits actually watching the matches, have they not seen that Italy even over the last few tournaments have been playing with a more attacking approach.
on the 29th June, 2012 at 3:49pm
Forza Azzurri - What a win!

Can't wait for the final - bring it on.

Balo, Pirlo, Cassano, De Rossi, Bonnucci, Buffon the spine of the team.

on the 29th June, 2012 at 12:12am
So what a great blog. Basically added what we have all known for years, every game Italy play in, regardless of opposition, is biased towards whoever they play. I'm an England fan unless Italy are playing them due to heritage, but for years have heard Lineker, Lawro, Motty et al talking down the most European World Cup winners, no one likes us apart from the food!! Also, how many English Italian haters are on here!! Why read the website!!
on the 27th June, 2012 at 11:02pm
Susy,well done for such a concise and accurate article that was written without the benefit of hindesight thus leaving you open to an onslaught had Italy lost.I have been infuriated before every tournament with the poor standards of journaslism and pundetory both on TV & Radio by the so called experts who insist on drudging up the same old cliches and stereotypes of the Italian game.Has Mr Alan Hansen had a bad experience with a Pizza at some point in his life? Ooops,i'm at it too!
Siamo Grande!
on the 27th June, 2012 at 3:49pm
Excellent article, hit a few nails on the head. I too am an Anglo Italian hybrid. My Mother is English. Guess who she supported on Sunday......Italy ;)
on the 27th June, 2012 at 1:24pm
As a Scot, none of this blog was news to me. It is interesting, though, to see it is not just us who have noticed all this about the English.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 10:55am
Well I'm English and I 100% agree with this. Although I live abroad now so I don't hear the UK media.

I remember 90 96 98 04 06. England play this "hold on for penalties then lose" tactic every time they reach a major tournament.

And the pundits and commentators, the experts who spend thier every day watching football talk about:
a Solid back four, an inpenetrable defence etc

England will never win until people accept this.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 8:14am
Bang on. What an article. Way to go!
I'm glad the English lost. That's the least they deserved!
on the 27th June, 2012 at 5:28am
Anon at June 25, 12:52 asked: "So according to some folks on here, Italy smashed England. If so, why did they need penalties to do it?"

Because England refused to play the game. Instead, they parked the England bus in front of goal. No one is getting by an entire team stacked at the goal mouth. The bottom line on this game was -- England did not play. Pirlo gave England a lesson in class with his pk, and the Italy team gave England a lesson in football.
on the 26th June, 2012 at 3:59pm
What an accurate account of reality! Forza Italia - Enjoyed seen England down on their knees as the usually do.
Go and drink your sorrows!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -
on the 26th June, 2012 at 3:26pm

What are you talking about????
on the 25th June, 2012 at 10:18pm
Best article I've read. As an Italian that resides in Canada I have to constantly hear the media bias towards England and downplaying the Italian NT and their previous success. I even mentioned as you did on another article about how England still brings up 1966 every single tournament yet when Italians bring up 2006 people try to dismiss it in any way they can saying italy got lucky or it was so long ago. But yesterday victory was sweet! Forza Italia!
on the 25th June, 2012 at 5:16pm
this blog has united all Italians from around the world. I applaud Susy for writing it - well done.

Spread the news of this blog.

Forza Azzurri

on the 25th June, 2012 at 4:55pm
"sore winners, rubbing people faces in their every tiny victory"
Paul and Michael were right. People are the same wherever you go. I'll stop there. I don't want to be accused of talking Poo Poo!:)
on the 25th June, 2012 at 4:06pm
What a great article.. you dont have to be English or Italian to know that it is 100% true.. English are always talking poo poo, and never live up to their hype they create on themselves. Chelsea won the CL because an Italian coach took over midway through the season and turned things round. Fact is, Italians are football masters, but the English cannot play the game they created hahaha
on the 25th June, 2012 at 3:00pm
As a Scot, none of this blog was news to me; but it is interesting to see that the things you mentioned are apparent to other nationalities as well.

I support the Italians in every tournament (since Scotland are rarely there!), so I was thrilled that the Azzuri got the win, and of course that it was England that they beat!
on the 25th June, 2012 at 11:29am
All i can say guys is on the morning after the storm....That squad not only won and beat our biggest enermy(living in England) but did us all proud and represents and mirrors gutts, determination and the pride of wearing the jersey. I have always been so proud to be Italian a PETERBORUGH ITALIAN at that and last night said it all.So GERMANY you better be scared..2006 we came to you back yard and ripped your World cup and souls and we'll so it again. FORZA ITALIA!!!
on the 25th June, 2012 at 9:27am
And sad to read in Henry Winter's report that English fans still targeted Italian fans after the match with taunts about the war as I was years ago and referred to in a previous post - sincerely hope Italians in Bedford could celebrate without any problems. And please no one mention the word banter!
on the 25th June, 2012 at 8:44am
Anonymous, I think what people are saying is that an Italy team that is not one of their best with undoubted finishing problems still managed to totally outclass England. The media such as the BBC trumpeting they had all England's knockout matches really doesn't help in managing expectations, and Mark Lawrenson exhibited the sort of ignorance and prejudice we have all been talking about last night.
on the 25th June, 2012 at 8:40am
What a lovely day to be an Italian in England today!
on the 25th June, 2012 at 8:14am
Diamanti, West Ham reject to put Italy through.... He DOES it..... Woo-ooh... Eat that England..

You played like a chicken kiev in kiev, no meat, no taste - value brand..

Ciao, Ciao
on the 25th June, 2012 at 6:59am

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