Condemnation of Italian game not entirely factual

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

Fabio Capello hasn't made many missteps since become the manager of England's national team.

But he made a beauty when he went off on Italian football at a seminar at a university in Italy.

The Italian has given international hope to the English side, qualifying England quickly and efficiently for the World Cup in South Africa.

As the manager of one of the most high-profile teams in the world, Capello is often asked to weigh-in on issues around the football world. Until his blast at Italian football, he'd been able to avoid the dangers of dealing with the international media.

But he couldn't avoid shredding Italian football recently.

Capello talked about how much he loved coaching football in England. No problem there.

He continued praising the English game, including the atmosphere and behaviour of English fans. Then he got to the point of the discussion.

"It's the Ultras who rule in Serie A. There is no courage to apply the laws against them," said the man who coached Milan and Juventus in Italy.

"In England, the stadia are full, there is a desire to go to the stadium, nothing ever happens and the stewards do a perfect job. I am saddened with what is happening in Italy."

There was more.

"In Italy, the divers are praised and receive prizes -- in England they are jeered.

"The Italian national team has never fascinated me like the English one," he said.

The Ultras are super fans. They usually travel throughout Italy following their teams. Unfortunately, some of them become super pests and behave violently. They believe they are more team managers than fans.

Recently, 200 Lazio fans used a training session to protest Lazio's play. They sent players for cover by throwing explosive devices on the pitch.

Not surprisingly, Capello has taken a lot of heat from Italian football authorities for his comments. Much of what Capello says is true, but it's the half-truths that have gotten him in trouble.

Capello isn't stupid. He knew the reaction the comments would cause. Everything has a purpose for Capello and his purpose was to poke away at Italian soccer authorities.

When he says the Italian national team manager's position has never fascinated him, that's because the chances of him getting that job are slim at best. He's never had a great relationship with the Italian soccer federation because he isn't a 'yes' man.

But no matter what his relationship is with those running football in his home country, he should know better than to spout half-truths.

Like any nation, England included ultra fans cause problems. Italy's problems are greater than some other nations, but Capello's assertions that in England, " . . . there is a desire to go to the stadium, nothing ever happens and the stewards do a perfect job," is simplistic and naive. While England has spent a considerable amount of money and many years in controlling hooliganism, it often rears its ugly head, especially when it comes to racism.

His assertion that "divers are praised" in Italy while being "jeered in England" is again only a half-truth.

While it may be more evident in Italy, every league is trying to eliminate cheating from the game. The most publicized diving incidents in recent memory have actually occurred in England.

Capello is in a happy place right now. His England team is performing better than anyone expected. The English Premier League is still considered the top league in the world, garners more publicity than any other and is making buckets of money. Not enough mind you, but buckets more than anyone else.

It's enough to make Capello think that England has all the football answers.

Not yet they don't. Not by a long shot.


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