Serie A: The Slow Death of the Greatest League in EuropeApril 8, 2012
It is a shame to see Serie A on her deathbed.
The once-proud league is quickly becoming an afterthought as scandals, crowd troubles and a poor product continue to plague the Italian game.
This is not to say Serie A should be pitied. Most of the league’s problems are self-inflicted wounds caused by arrogance and a failure to swiftly handle issues.
Inter Milan’s Champions League victory in 2010 masked the fact the league was no longer competitive with the best leagues in the world. The loss of its fourth Champions League spot to the Bundesliga served to confirm this.
What always set Serie A ahead of other leagues was the cultured feel the game had. Critics continually called catenaccio dull but it was actually more sophisticated than anything else.
Much in the same Charles Dickens’ novels tend to be viewed by the modern generation as dull, the subtlety of Serie A was never appreciated by a majority of football fans who just wanted to see goals and end-to-end action.
Even Dickens would have struggled to come up with a cast of characters found in Italian football during its heyday. This group added even more flair to the game both on and off the pitch.
Roberto Baggio, Marco van Basten, Diego Maradona, Alessandro del Pierro, Kaka and Christian Vieri were just a few of the characters who kept the league interesting.
Serie A still has unique characters and legends but the once strong heartbeat has become a murmuring afterthought.
The Calciopoli in 2006 was a massive blow for Italian football and tarnished the Italian game to a certain extent.
The newest claims of match fixing against Atalanta and most recently Bari prove that those in charge of Serie A have failed to control the game.
Of course, this is just one of the many problems troubling football in Italy. Crowd troubles, incidents of racism and dilapidated stadiums have all taken away from the spectacle of the game.
Like match fixing, if the authorities had actually sought resolutions to these problems, the albatross around the neck of Italian football would be gone or at least significantly reduced.
Everyone in Italian football has shown a shocking contempt for the common fan during the decline of the game the past 8 years.
Owners, players, officials and even the small minority of fans who act like savages at matches, continue to sabotage a league that was the gold standard for football from the 1980’s to the early 2000’s.
The only thing more alarming than the current state of the game in Italy is the fact that it will only continue this slow, painful death.
The match-fixing story is only going to get bigger as the police continue to investigate the problem. It will not bring the game to a halt but will certainly turn away more casual fans.
It will also turn players off from wanting to play in Italy. Most players are not going to be bothered playing in a league where the results are fixed.
The game itself has even lost its verve. Seeing the best players in the world playing catencaccio is brilliant. Seeing Cristian Chivu and Rodrigo Taddei do it is a chore for even the most die-hard of fans.
Saving Serie A is not a lost cause, but it will soon be one unless a savior can be found. Unfortunately for fans, there is no one on the horizon who seems capable of resuscitating football in Italy.