Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How yesterday Italy won and I almost got killed.

It happened. No one really believed that it could happen, even if everyone did indeed hope so. It's always like this when Germany and Italy plays, the ancient memories embedded in our DNA wakes up again and remember the two thousand years of struggles, started with the 2-0 victory by coach Caius Marius over the german team at Acquae Sextiae, continued with the 0-3 defeat of the italian (well, roman) team at the Teutoburg stadium with a team led by coach Varus and went along the centuries until yesterday. We never believe we can make it, until we actually do. Always against Germany: 1970, 1982, 2006. If we consider that we ended up playing the final in 1994 as well, we do get to play the last game exactly once every 12 years.

That's football, baby.

So it was that we won 2-0 again, at the end of the extra-times, after having hit twice the german bars and broken the Dortmund Stadium's record (Germany had never lost there until yesterday). As the referee whistled the end, 58.000.000 of italians felt vindicated for the insults thrown at them over the last week by the german newspapers (Bild and Der Spiegel especially), for the killed bear, for all the little and big torts, real or imaginary, suffered from germans over the last 24 years (all the previous ones had been washed away by the victory in Spain) and we even almost forgot the loud whistles against our national anthem and the fact that Germany twice in a game (unheard of in international competition since the concept of "fair play" was created) didn't return the ball to us after we threw it out to have injured players assisted by doctors.

The paroxysm of joy, after the immense tension kept at bay for 119 minutes (plus intervals and injury time), was so uncontrollable that upon the first italian goal I found myself hugging and embracing my brother, something I do not remember doing since I was 5 and my brother a still innocent looking toddler of 2.

The funny thing is that the one Germany and Italy is such a love-hate relationship (and how well I do know...). It's since Goethe, and probably even before, that germans are fascinated by our history and spirit and yet are irked by our lack of tidiness and order. On the other hand, while we do not like at all the sense of superiority towards us that germans don't even try to hide, we are, often openly, envious of them under many aspects. Mixed couples cannot be counted and yesterday I've seen more than one person wearing an azure shirt consoling another wearing a white one (admittedly, the ones in azure were mostly dark haired guys and the ones in white blond girl, so much for stereotypes).

Another ironic thing is that no one like italians can understand the germans right now. We were the one who lost in semifinals playing at home in 1990 (and actually, Germany won the title back then) and we know the desperation of playing the "consolation" final on our own soil while someone else fights for the title (w all did actually cheer for Germany back then, with such a passion to whistle soundly the Argentinian anthem).

So, we won, game over and that's it, at least until the next game on sunday night, which will see us facing either France or Portugal (I'd rather have the second, actually)

In the meanwhile, I almost got killed yesterday. For the first time in my life I abandoned my house after the game and directed downtown to celebrate. The streets were a mass of flags, cheers, cars and scooters hoking (mine included) where the only colors seemed to be azure, red, white and green. Took me almost one hour to cross the city and meet my best friend, spent a bit of time with them than took one and directed in the real centre.

Met some other friends and while in Piazza Venezia several thousands of Italians sung the national anthem in front of the "Altar of Fatherland"... which would be quite fitting, if it wasn't for the fact the unification of Italy was fought mostly against austrians (so, germans) but possible only thanks to prussians (so, other Germans)... I directed towards Campo dei Fiori. And that proved to be an almost fatal mistake.

While talking with this friend at the far end of the square on the flower market side, something literally exploded between our feet. A second later, something passed so close to my face that I could clearly feel the air displacement before exploding behind me. At that point I did raise my eyes and saw a volley of beer bottles falling from the sky, one hitting square in the face the person right next to me. I ducked and ran, together with another thousand of people, while the police started lunching tear gas and charged a bunch of... how should I define them? who had started the whole thing. Two real loud explosions followed and then I do not know what happened, as it took me 10 minutes to find again my friends, one of which, the one who was talking with me, carried light glass splinters bruises.

Five minutes later, as the adrenaline rush lowered, I did realize that if the bottle that I felt passing so near to my eye and temple had been just a couple of centimeters, at most, more on target I'd probably be dead by now. Great way to celebrate the victory. And not a single newspaper reporting what is becoming a normal thing in the roman week-ends...

PS. the Finland case continues. I got even more contact from finnish places I didn't even know the existance of (Kaarlejoki?? Jyvskyl???) and I have no idea why. Anyone cares about telling me why?

1 comment:

Eugene said...

Wow, crazy stuff. I'm glad you're ok.

It always amazes me how strongly some people can feel about soccer/football because it's simply not all that big in the States. A week or so ago, there was an article in the papers here (in Taiwan) about a Japanese man visiting Taiwan who committed suicide by hanging himself after Japan lost in the World Cup. Then there's talk about jubilant celebrations and rioting in Europe, and it juse seems so alien to me.

I'm glad though that there's still something like soccer that can provoke such emotional patriotic fervor at least somewhere in the world.