Sunday March 17 2013
One man's insult...

After Antonio Conte was berated for celebrating, Susy Campanale decided to explain the unique Italian mentality around sport.

It is fascinating watching a game with commentary from different countries. You realise how many nuances there are in the Italian approach to sport, the concept of ‘respect’ and ‘fair play.’ There are some issues that Italians and the British have fundamentally opposing views on – and I don’t just mean grappling in the penalty area. Antonio Conte’s celebrations at the Dall’Ara were a case in point.

Before the final whistle had even been blown on a 2-0 victory, Juventus Coach Conte was pumping his fist to get the crowd going, shouting ‘Andiamo!’ (Let’s go) and blowing kisses into the television cameras. It was a marvellous performance, one lapped up by Juve fans in the stadium (of which there were 10,000) and at home. Bologna boss Stefano Pioli was furious and went over to berate Conte and his staff for “lacking respect” towards his team. You may well argue such a reaction was daft – and it was – but it’s not the first time I’ve seen it.

People wonder why Italian teams always stop playing when they have a fairly comfortable lead, often turning out to be not all that comfortable come the final minutes of the match. It is not because they are conditioned to think defensively and sit on a lead to protect what they have. It’s simply a sign of ‘respect’ towards the opposition. They’ve made their point, they have the win, there’s no need to humiliate anyone. This is why Fiorentina could’ve easily scored another two or three when beating Inter 4-1, but opted to just pass it about in midfield for 15 minutes instead. It’s considered rude to rub it in.

When someone does break that unwritten code of respect, it gets extremely ugly. Catania players and even directors got into a brawl with Roma when they were beaten 7-0 at the Olimpico, insisting such a heavy loss was “unnecessary” when the points were already under lock and key. Would it not be equally insulting to know the opposition is taking pity on you by holding back because you are so clearly inferior?

Dear commentators, no longer despair when Italian teams rush to put the ball out of play when someone is down injured. It doesn’t matter that the rules state the referee should choose when to stop play, for in Italy anyone who carries on is considered a cruel, heartless cheat. I have seen Coaches like Francesco Guidolin of Udinese and Genoa’s Davide Ballardini scream themselves hoarse on the touchline, angrily shouting at their own players to put the ball out. Ballardini even got sent off when the referee mistakenly thought the furious outburst was aimed at him rather than the Genoa squad. It is also why when a player carries on and the whistle is eventually blown, a brawl tends to break out with everyone hurling insults and shoving the ‘disrespectful’ figure who has violated the code of fair play.

It’s remarkable, therefore, that other things are considered to be acceptable in Italian sport. The racism problem in Serie A is part of a wider approach fans have to their opponents – they are the enemy and any insult is fair game. Fans who idolise their own black players will make monkey noises at the opposition, because somehow that makes sense in their little brains. I recently saw abuse aimed at Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini, who had collapsed and died during a game. Every time Fiorentina play Juventus, there are banners referencing Heysel.

Team buses arriving for an away game are often pelted with objects, including rocks, and in Italy people are just used to it. That’s the way it is. Racist abuse is met with fines and utterly empty threats, because they are resigned to it happening. Yes, even the wrestling matches in the box are allowed because ‘if you give that, you’ll end up awarding 10 penalties per game.’ Try awarding 10 per game and they might stop doing it! Actually impose bans like UEFA have on Lazio and perhaps the rest of the ultras will be motivated enough to throw out the ones consistently making racist chants.

Amid all that, do we really want to stamp out celebrations? It’s bad enough we still have that stupid rule where players are booked for taking their shirts off after a goal. It’s a sport, you are supposed to celebrate and enjoy success! Go on Conte, giz a kiss.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
That goes for all the juve fans on this blog too of course. You can all go stick yourselves.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 12:10pm
I can't stand him and his team and there fans. Conte has no class.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 12:08pm
Brilliantly written I have said to many people in this country why Italian teams do not go out guns blazing when winning comfortably it's all about respect to me this is sport not a mafia epic.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 12:05pm
I 100% agree with Conte's comments. His team had just put in a great performance against a strong Bologna side. Juve played some terrific football, & Conte merely manifesting his joy & passion. What next?! Are we going to tell players to not celebrate their goals?! My only criticism of Juve last night, is for Chiellini's embarrassing & pathetic behaviour. He is a great player & a tough guy; he really doesn't have to roll around so theatrically when challenged.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 11:53am
After everything that Juventus and Conte have been through he is more than entitled to celebrate. He should make sure that he doesn't count his chickens before they hatch though, there are still 8 games left.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 11:47am
Maybe alot of people in Emgland missed this or did not get it, but Conte reacted the way he did because a few seconds earlier there were derogatory anti-Juve chants ringing around the Dell'Ara.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 11:40am
As for stupid remarks made by fans in the stadium, of course the opposition will want to wind you up. The perpertrator s know they will also not be identified, so they do it. People say things on these blogs that I'm willing to bet they wouldn't always say to your face. I heard the other day a guy in Sheffield was tweeting abuse about a boxer, the boxer paid him a visit, the guy suddenly changed his tune. The people that make racial remarks know they are safe from retribution.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 11:35am
Juventus practically won the scudetto last night. Conte should have been throwing water botttles and jumping if I was him. Napoli dont need a cry baby like pioli as coach... we need someone with brain and passion....
on the 17th March, 2013 at 11:34am
To say Italian teams show respect by not rubbing it n against their opponents is pure stupidity. The reality is Italian teams struggle with stamina and pace and get blitzed by foreign teams. Istanbul, great show of respect from Milan...not

As for juve and conte, we are the best team in Italy, when your on top, every1 hates u, conte gave Italy an inch with an ill advised celebration, now Italy will blow it up. Personally, to hell with the rest of Italy, u owe us, juve carry Italy ryt now.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 11:27am
@Rp46, I guess Pioli fits SSC Napoli's profile for their next coach, he achieved nothing yet but can complain like he lost a mountain of gold, I think ADL will soon make his move.

@tom, you certainly need to get out from the wormhole you're currently living in, FYI... we're getting our revoked (or stolen) Scudetti back, keep your eyes open.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 11:09am
When Pioli wins he can celebrate how he likes but don't tell other people how to react. Conte has given Serie A a new lease of life, good football, passion and colour. You usually can learn more about people how they behave when they lose not win. Conte has be guilty of not losing graciously but at least he has apologies later on. Pioli was really sucking a lemon. Join the Vatican if you're so conservative.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 11:09am
This whole issue is just complete rubbish, I for one as a juventino was very happy to see our coach getting so excited and celebrating and my fellow juventini were too. I mean there are like 9 games left and we have a comfortable lead and just beat an in form team 2-0 with some ease, if you can't celebrate then, when can you ?

Also certain coaches like pioli and mazzarri don't help these kind of silly problem because they tend to feed off of them if not create them.

Stop all this childishness
on the 17th March, 2013 at 11:08am
Message to Tom; Juve were demoted for "unsporting behaviour" not "sporting fraud" unlike others who although given points deductions were not relegated.get your facts right.the word "fraud"should you check your dictionary refers to;wrongful or criminal deception intended to obtain a financial gain. In the UK you do not get punished as a player or coach if your gestures are not directed towards the opposition .The ESPN commentators were loving it on Saturday evening in the UK.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 10:56am
tom - I pity guys like you who just can't pull their heads out of their anus...
on the 17th March, 2013 at 10:33am
Conte is celebrating with us fans I don't give a two damn rat ass about other supporters getting agitated when it completely fine with those idiots to see our fans and players harassed everytime they go away from home. Celebrate conte and screw the rest we are behind you 100%
on the 17th March, 2013 at 10:27am
Not many people here understand the Italian mentality. There are unwritten rules in Italy. 100% correct, if my team has a black player he is the best but if my teams opponent has a black player he gets the monkey chant. Why? because its mostly all in good spirits. Conte was in fact out of line to do this at Bologna but then Conte acts more like a English manager than an Italian one.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 9:49am
Conte is classless, Juve have become classless...
on the 17th March, 2013 at 9:23am
Suzy all I can say is forza juve forever and conte must stay with us and bring us the champions league. All this talk of him leaving, I am sure he wants to bring the biggest prize back to his boy hood club.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 9:16am
People seriously need to get off Antonio Conte's back. He'll probably get penalised for even breathing at this rate.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 7:45am
Well said Suzy

Juve are at a crucial stage of the season, Conte has every right to gee up the fans to help push us over the finishing line. It's not as if he was silencing or berarating the home fans.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 7:25am
Good article. Happy this wasn't a Juve or a Conte bash. I agree with you on all points.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 7:20am
If Conte's celebration was condescending and disrespectful, then aren't coaches to be blamed when they make outlandish celebratory gestures / fist pumps / group hugs et al whenever their team scores a goal ?? Why is a celebration right at the end any different than one during a match ?? Berating other coaches for such things should be the last thing on the minds of a good coach, he should be looking at introspection and being a spirited opponent, everything else is petty gamesmanship....
on the 17th March, 2013 at 6:02am
Typical Susy with here over the top commentary! Two Wrongs make a right? Oh stop being respectful because small minorities are hurling raciest insults.
The game wasn't even over and you are celebrating like you won the Scudetto I think it was classless, but then again this is the guy who attacks refs and complains when things don't go his way then he turns around and makes himself look humble by telling his fans to not act out in any bad way, the guy is a walking hypocrite if I ever saw one.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 6:01am
Even though the article nose-dived in quality very quickly and veered very, very badly in terms of the original point in question, Susy Campagnale has, for once, got it right.... There are no rules or laws which say that such things (celebrating your victories) are "disrespectful", they only matter to the prudes and the hypocritical two-faced personnel in Calcio / elsewhere....
on the 17th March, 2013 at 5:58am
Great article Susy. Really just put my thoughts into words.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 5:26am
I would have loved punching Stefano Pioli in the face for his reaction after the game!
on the 17th March, 2013 at 5:02am
conte is just juve. cheat with no humility or respect. they should have been kicked out of calcio when their behaviour of intimidation and cheating was found out. conte with his behaviour just confirmed wht jue is all about.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 4:29am
As a Juve Fan, I understand Conte's point of view and from reading this article if that's how it is in Italy then I don't see what's wrong with his celebration, However I personally would not do it if I was in his position, best to stay Humble. The Season is not over at all, there are few games to go and some hurdles to over come, if I am correct we still have Milan , Lazio & Inter somewhere around the corner.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 4:22am
Pioli seemed to be a sensitive guy after his lost. Understandable but unnecessary thing to do since it would make him look like a 10 yrs old boy who lose his candy. I just wonder what pioli will say if he had a chance to see his team is beaten by mourinho and mou make a grass-sliding-celebration style in front of whole fans LOL
on the 17th March, 2013 at 3:26am
He should be allowed to celebrate. Italian officials can't expect players, fans and coaches to be more restrained like in northern Europe or in the British Isles.

I'm sick of this mentality of Italian teams showing "respect" for the opposition. Italian teams should show their superiority. Remember the Euro 2012 Final and Man U's thrashing of Roma in the CL? The opposition showed the Italians no mercy! Italian soccer players need to realise that mercy is for the weak.
on the 17th March, 2013 at 3:22am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.