Inter manager Jose Mourinho’s reactions to referees in recent games has created a lot of tension in Italian football. But is FIGC President’s Giancarlo Abete’s suggestion that the Portuguese is harming the game justified?
Italians may be a passionate bunch of people but they certainly don’t take well to anyone standing up to them. When Jose Mourinho arrived in the peninsula everyone felt that he would be the saviour of the then-maligned Calcio.
But skip forward 18 months and it seems everyone wants to see Jose’s back for the ‘better of the game’. Mourinho’s theatrics during the Inter-Sampdoria game may have been overboard and not justified but surely enough they weren’t enough to warrant the kind of criticism he has been subjected to.
The problem with the Italian game is that on one hand it claims to be the most passion fuelled event in the continent but on the other hand it refuses to fight for its right. If indeed we are to acknowledge that Serie A is an emotional experience then surely Mourinho was just being the conductor in this affair.
It is highly hypocritical of people like Abete or Roberto Bettega to ask Inter to mind its own business when they have done exactly the same for years together. Luciano Moggi, the disgraced yet widely loved by the media ex-Juventus managing director, was famous for stirring up storms in cups that didn’t belong to him.
Ever since the Calciopoli, Inter have quickly become the most hated team in the country because of the perceived advantage they earned through the fallout of the scandal. In fact almost every second Inter story has something negative to do about the team. Jose Mourinho’s infamy can be compared to that of mafia Don Provenzano.
Managers, owners, players all seem to have an agenda to bring down the Portuguese coach and his actions have certainly not aided his cause. Mourinho is a man who does not like to lose and he translates that mentality to his squad.
He managed to do that with Chelsea and now within a year he has managed to do that at Inter as well. His ways may not be the friendliest but he certainly knows how to get results. However it seems that all the media attention is rather directed at his inglorious moments than his coaching abilities.
If Inter are to fail in getting past Chelsea in the Champions League expect almost everyone whose opinion is worth a dime to jump on the ‘Incompetent Mourinho’ bandwagon. But what is surprising in the criticism levelled at Mourinho is that in other leagues around the world managers seem to get away with a lot worse lightly.
Sir Alex Ferguson branded Alan Wiley as incompetent and too slow for Premier League games and he was slapped with just a two game touchline ban. Despite his blatant attack on the officials none of the other teams went about voicing out against Fergie.
Arsene Wenger has never been the model gentleman and his remonstration with Martin Hansson for a perfectly legal Porto goal was ignored without great comment in the media. Then why is it that if one utters a word against Italian referees it is doing harm to the game but one (Abete) is free to comment about mistakes by referees elsewhere.
Referee Paulo Tagliavento has been hailed as a hero for standing up to Inter’s might but it is such stories that inadvertently do more harm to the game than anything else. Exerting pressure on the referee is nothing new and the refs are there to do their job which is to ‘make the right decisions’ and Tagliavento for the most part did that. There wasn’t anything heroic about his act.
As for the Inter players’ conduct, it wasn't ideal but you regularly see players crowding a referee when decisions are not going their way. Just look at Chelsea for that matter, after last year’s elimination to Barcelona in the Champions League it almost looked like the players were ready to hunt down referee Tom Ovrebo.
What is shocking about the whole affair is that Mourinho’s tactics are the very tactics the Italian national team has used for years together. Intimidating the referee, pleading with him and relentlessly arguing with him form the fabric of the Italian game—fubrizia.
This is football—people won’t be happy when things aren’t going their way and it is about time that Italians start accepting that.