Italians unwilling to make a meal of Suarez incident

Critics more concerned with World Cup exit as reality bites for Azzurri

Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini leave the pitch after losing to Uruguay in Natal. Photograph:   EPA/

Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini leave the pitch after losing to Uruguay in Natal. Photograph: EPA/


Curiously, in the aftermath of the “disaster” of Italy’s World Cup elimination at the hands of Uruguay, Italian media this morning (or yesterday?) paid little attention to the contribution made by Liverpool striker, “Dracula” Luis Suarez.

Nearly all commentators argued that whilst Mexican referee Marco Antonio Rodriguez Moreno had certainly not helped Italy, first by sending off Claudio Marchisio and secondly by not sending-off Dracula Suarez, Italy had only themselves to blame for their second consecutive World Cup first round elimination, following that of South Africa four years ago.

“...And so Uruguay and Costa Rica, two countries which between them have fewer inhabitants that the region of Lombardy, have shown us to the door . . . Sure, in our worst mishaps, there is always a referee called Moreno (reference to Byron Moreno of Italy v S. Korea at 2002 World Cup) . . . but in truth there are no alibis nor excuses for a side that in two games fails to get a real shot on goal. Nor did the side ever look as if it could and would win,” commented Italy’s leading sports daily, Gazzetta Dello Sport.

Not that the boy Suarez goes unobserved. Writing in daily, “La Repubblica”, veteran football writer Gianni Mura is critical not only of Suarez but also of the post-match statements by Uruguayan coach, Oscar Tabarez: “The behaviour of the recidivist Suarez would suggest that Uruguay do not really deserve to qualify, or at the very least that Suarez should be banned thanks to the TV images. It was also sad to hear a maestro like Tabarez say afterwards that this was a World Cup for football not for cheapskate morality.”

Inevitably, much attention was paid to the post-match comments on Sky Italia TV by Juventus defender, Giorgio Chiellini, the player bitten by Suarez, who claimed that the game had been “decided” by the referee, adding: “Suarez is a slimeball but he will get away with this because FIFA want all their top stars to stay in the Finals. Let’s see if they have the courage now to use TV footage against him.”

Italian critical opinion is clearly focussed on a series of perceived Italian shortcomings – the false sense of security generated by the 2-1 opening game win over England; the tactical confusion generated by too many changes from coach Cesare Prandelli; the sides’s physical preparation given that Italy finished the game out on their feet; and inevitably, the failure of striker Mario Balotelli to deliver either against Costa Rica or against Uruguay, where he was substituted at half-time.

Nearly all commentators highlight the apparent dressing room tensions implicit in the post-match comments of captain and goalkeeper, Gigi Buffon. Without naming names, Buffon was critical of the younger players who failed to deliver, leaving it to ones such as himself, Barzagli, Pirlo and De Rossi to “pull the cart”. Most commentators argue that Balotelli was the prime object of that attack.

Several commentators also pointed out that Italy this morning woke up to not one but rather two “disasters”. By an unfortunate twist of fate, Napoli fan Ciro Esposito, shot by a Roma fan during skirmishes prior to last month’s Italian Cup Final in Rome, died in hospital last night. Noting that both coach Cesare Prandelli and Football Federation President Giancarlo Abete resigned in the immediate aftermath of the Uruguay defeat, “Gazzetta Dello Sport” commented: “Sometimes fate sends clear signals. Yesterday, our football came to a very sorry end of the road but the defeat does not concern merely those who took to the field and those who led them.

“This (the death of Esposito) was a defeat for the entire (Italian) football system which needs to be cleaned and revolutionised from the roots up, from the terraces to children’s teams and from the professional clubs through to the Federation”.

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