i Editor's Letter: Sport clichés


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The Independent Online


I feel like certain Pakistani cricketers or Italian Serie A footballers. I go into tomorrow's big England v Italy game knowing I can't lose! Hatfields, Quintilianis, Marcantonios and others will be watching on the edge of sofas from Boston, Massachusetts to Croydon; Lazio, Italy to Hammersmith.

Unfortunately, I'll be here at i, unable to share the drama first-hand with la famiglia: the wonderfully cliché'd reactions; appalling profanities (from devout Catholics) and manic hand gestures. Sadly, I won't have to try to explain corner-kick rules to my Ma for the hundredth time – let alone offside.

I'd love to share every kick with my uncle in Boston, but he goes into self-imposed purdah during games, demanding silence to concentrate.

These twin national bastions of football obsessives have seldom played each other; hardly ever competitively – partly because England do not often progress far enough.

How curious Italian football is, so often devoid of the flair that characterises so many areas of Italian culture from food to fashion, cars to product design. Instead, expect a lot of blather about catenaccio, the ultra-defensive formation employed by successful Italian teams. The translation is "doorbolt", and the polyglot England boss, Roy Hodgson, who once managed Inter Milan, appears to have adopted this tactic for his relatively humdrum eleven.

Other clichés? On-the-pitch histrionics, and not just from the maverick Mario Balotelli. Off the pitch, expect endless slow-mo set to Verdi on TV, and English crusaders vs Roman gladiators in the crowd. Oh, and more shots of beautiful female fans than in any match not involving Brazil. I shall leave you to work out which end they will be in. I can't wait. Come on, England! Forza Italia!