If I mention this, the Italians come back with shocked disapproval. “What?!” they retort. “You’ve lived in Italy all this time and never gone to a soccer game in a stadium?!”
The Italians are so wild about soccer that living in Italy and not having a favorite team is seen as something akin to not having an identity at all.
The fact that Italy didn’t even qualify to play in the Qatar World Cup was certainly unthinkable in the Italian soccer world, but it went beyond that. The entire population of Italy and even soccer fans around the world were dumbfounded. It may have been one of the things that pushed Italy to revamp its soccer system, one idea being to redesign its stadiums. Those plans are currently stalled, however.
Meanwhile, the basketball courts in Milan are getting steadily rebuilt. The sponsor of Milan’s professional basketball team, designer Giorgio Armani, decided to pay for the redevelopment of five public basketball courts located in city parks.
Because the courts are outside, they’re apparently heavily damaged from wind and rain. But between being in the country known for design and Armani himself working on the project, there are plans to give each of the five locations a stylish pattern. I’m looking forward to seeing how they turn out.
Back to soccer, though. The Italians’ passion for soccer is widely known, but just how intense is it? One everyday example is that the colors you wear end up having a soccer-related meaning. Milan has two teams that consider themselves “eternal rivals”: AC Milan and Inter Milan. AC Milan’s official colors are red and black. Inter Milan’s colors are blue and black.
So if you ever put those two colors together in an outfit, you’ll get a barrage of comments from the Milanese people. If you meet up with a friend who’s an Inter fan while wearing red and black, for example, you can bet they’re going to jibe you somehow. Broadly speaking, AC Milan fans tend to come from the working class, while Inter fans are associated with the bourgeoisie. That generalization doesn’t seem to really apply to the people I know, however, so things may be changing.
You might think that people become fans of a team because they’re impressed with the skill of the players, or find one of them particularly handsome, but that’s not the case. Almost invariably, people end up rooting for the team their fathers rooted for—in other words, affiliations are passed down in families through the generations. Supporting a certain team was once a regional activity that bonded people to a place.