Anorak News | Arrivederci, Bad Losers

Arrivederci, Bad Losers

by | 23rd, June 2004

‘THE Italians used to have something of a reputation as unlucky losers – they exited more competitions on penalty shoot-outs than ever England did.

A crying shame?

But of late they are earning a far worse reputation – as bad losers.

Two years ago, it was the fault of an Ecuadorian referee who had been instructed by Fifa to cheat so that South Korea, one of the World Cup co-hosts, made it through to the quarter-final.

Now, the only reason Italy have gone out of Euro 2004 is because Denmark and Sweden conspired together to play out a 2-2 draw and so claim the top two spots in Group C.

It is, of course, absolute rubbish – the reason Italy are on their way home from Portugal is because they didn’t deserve to get through.

They are a negative side who have only themselves to blame for their predicament.

The idea that Denmark and Sweden managed to conjure up a 2-2 draw to prevent the Italians going through is laughable to anyone who saw the game.

And it merely deflects attention from the Italians’ consistent failings at this level.

Andy Townsend said he was glad that Italy were out because they are a negative side – and it’s hard not to sympathise with this point of view.

Italy looked a really average side against Bulgaria and – what is worse – never seemed to be fully up for a game that they knew they had to win if they had any chance of qualification.

To be fair, the Italian press have for the most part reserved its criticism for the team itself and in particular manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

The Gazzetta dello Sport accused Trappattoni of producing ‘the worst Italian team of recent years, even of recent decades’.

‘We cannot recall an Italy team that was so lacking in ideas and which couldn’t score,’ it said.

And therein lies the problem, not in Gianluigi Buffon’s sore outburst after the game in which he said the Scandinavians should be ashamed of themselves.

‘I’m very bitter,” he said. “I didn’t believe this would happen with peoples who are proud of their spirit of fair play.’

It’s a funny world when the Italians – the very masters of footballing cynicism – are trying to hand out lessons about fair play.

Good riddance to them – perhaps next time they’ll realise that they hold their fate in their own hands at the beginning of the tournament and play accordingly.’

Posted: 23rd, June 2004 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink