By Gino De Blasio – @ginodb
“It’s not any particular face but a team, especially after the rough Coppa Italia and Italian Super Cup Finals – Napoli. When I am faced with Napoli, something goes off in me.” Marchisio was answering a question for Style, a magazine insert in Italy’s second largest newspaper Corriere Della Sera; “Is there a player that even if you look at them brings out a certain antipathy you may have towards them?”
Initially, I had a whole different post planned. It was going to discuss how there is this ‘North/South’ divide and how comments like this don’t help. How a ‘Northern’ journalist was recently fired from a regional television station for insinuating that ‘you could smell the Neapolitan fans’ in reference to all the waste management issues they have. I was going to speak about economic division and how, in a lot of ways, the South has really been shafted by the North, for so long.
And then I realised, that’s really not what Marchisio was getting at. He was talking about the football team. A team with which he, personally, has had issues with as a professional player. His words are reserved only for those experiences, not the population of the South or the Neapolitans. Being Neapolitan, I can understand how they jumped to the conclusion, but then I thought over it more and my opinion changed.
It would be very easy to fall into this trap of thinking that this was a jibe at the ‘South’ like most of my friends and family thought. They did this without reading the details, instead they heard the top-line story and set their “anti-South” frustrations onto the world. With insults flying back and forth, it’s easy to see how these things can really spiral out of control.
My only criticism for Marchisio is simple, he was unprofessional and somewhat naive to think that this wouldn’t go unpunished in some cultural diaspora that does exist in Italy. The irony is this, if he had said Milan or Inter, there would have been less fuss. A ‘northerner’ ‘insulting’ a fellow northern team doesn’t have the same cultural symbiosis as one insulting a southern team. The best answer to the question would have been “I’m competitive, I always want to win. It’s a football pitch, not some blood feud.” How much classier is that answer, how much more respect would he have gained from the sporting community? Probably a lot more.
It’s easy to forget that the Italy that exists today is only 151 years old. Whilst there is still much cultural divide which does affect a lot of how the country is run, treated and ultimately self-governed, Marchisio’s comments have been blown apart by a media frenzy journalism that should have done what I have; taken a step back and realised that there isn’t an issue. Marchisio can be blamed for being unprofessional for his comments, but culturally racist is a much harder thing to prove.
Do you agree that Marchisio comments have been blown out of proportion, or is there something more sinister to his comments? Let us know or tweet @ginodb directly.