2006’s World Cup and Italian Cheating Football

The last 16 of the 2006 World Cup brought Italy and Australia together. The match ended with the score 1-0 to win Italy. It’s just that the victory of Marcelo Lippi’s squad was colored by a controversy that the Australian public might be hard to forget.

In that match Italy had to play with 10 players after Marco Materazzi received a second yellow card in the 50th minute. However, despite being superior in number of players, Australia was unable to penetrate the solid Italian defense – until the competition ended. Italy only conceded two goals, one own goal and one through a French penalty in the final.

Realizing they could not score goals, Australia hoped the match would continue until the extra round, or maybe on penalties. So the Socceroos coach at that time, Guus Hiddink, did not make the remaining two substitutions because he wanted to take advantage of Italy’s fatigue in extra time.

But what happened was very unexpected for the Australian squad. When the second half added to the second, Italy was awarded a penalty. Francesco Totti, who became the executor of 12, did his job well.

The cause of the penalty was very unpleasant for the Australian camp. Because Lucas Neill didn’t violate Fabio Grosso, but instead he dived. Australia felt “deprived” of his chance to qualify for the quarter-finals. Slurs also came to the Italian team for winning in an unfair way.

Italian football is inseparable from negative football stereotypes. Both from a tactical and non-tactical point of view. This cannot be separated from the principles that Italian players adhere to. In Gianluca Vialli’s book The Italian Job, he mentions that for Italian footballers, football is a job, not a game.

This is different from English football which considers football to be a game. Game? For Italian footballers, football is not as fun as a game. For them, winning is a target that must be achieved. Somehow, which ultimately justifies any means.

Therefore, after the match against Australia, Fabio Grosso honestly admitted his “cheating”. “This game was very tough. But we need to move on to the next round. The defender made a sliding tackle and only a little hit my leg. I need to do it. For me it was a penalty even though it really wasn’t.”

In fact, it wasn’t just Grosso who had committed “sins” for Italy. Names such as Filippo Inzaghi, Alberto Gilardino, and Francesco Totti and other names, did not escape a trick in a soccer game called diving.

However diving is not a trend. For Italy, diving is an art that refers to the term “furbizia” or the art of deception. In this case, furbizia is a way of tricking opponents through a performative, tactical and psychological approach that does not go outside the competition rules.

According to Andrea Tallarita, an Italiano football columnist, Furbizia isn’t just diving. There are several other examples of furbizia such as: tactical fouls, taking free kicks when the opposing goalkeeper is not ready, wasting time, provoking (both physical and verbal), and other things that can psychologically attack opposing players.

For football outside Italy this may be cheating. But in Italy, furbizia is a common strategy and has been with Italian football for a long time. Even in 2008, ESPN issued an advertisement about the Italian national team for the promotion of the 2008 European Cup with a little insinuation that Italy likes to provoke.

Although doing fubrizia is a sin, to practice it in the field is certainly not an easy matter. Yellow cards have become a ghost for anyone caught diving. It takes carefulness, accuracy and a little luck in order to “produce”. In 2002, Totti was clearly fouled by a South Korean defender. Instead of getting a penalty, Totti got a red card for receiving a second yellow card.

Until in the end, fubrizia will still characterize Italy. Why? Because football is about who wins and who loses, not what is right and what is wrong. When Italy did fubrizia, some people might hate Italy, but some people would consider her a hero.

That’s Italy, that’s football. It would be interesting to see how Italy will prevail in the upcoming Euro competition next year.


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