If you are interested in football and have recently discovered the awesomeness that is being an Italian fan, I have some tips for you. No it does not take anything particularly amazing in order to be an Italian football fan, but if you want to fit in at sports bars and sound like you know what you are talking about, this is for you.
Let’s start with Italian…
So you need to start out with learning a few Italian words. While ESPN will of course have an English announcer, if you want to read updates or stream it online, it would be good to pick up some important football related Italian words. Here are the most important ones.
Attaccante – Striker
Calcio d’angolo – Corner kick
Calcio di punizione – Free kick
Calcio di rigore – Penalty shoot-out
Centrocampo – Midfield
Fuori gioco– Offside
Tempo supplementare – Extra time
Football is an Italian Religion
Where you may think that Catholicism is the key religion in Italy, you are missing out how important football is to Italians. It really is treated like its own religion. Families gather to enjoy it, friends meet up to watch together, and it is all kind of like having a religious mass. Even a cardinal in Italy said “football is the religion of Italy.” The people are dedicated to practicing it and believing in it. They spend Sundays watching it together, just like going to mass.
At the same time, it can be an extreme and violent religion. Like other Europeans, the Italians are passionate people. Whether they are pushing for social movements or they are pushing for their favorite Italian football club, sometimes the Italians get out of hand. There are not political assassinations anymore in the country, instead there are headlines like “Roman fan kills Lazio supporter with flare gun.” I’m not kidding, they get way out of hand when it comes to football.
You need to Treat Italian Footballers like Move Stars…because they are!
Be prepared to worship the Italian football stars like you would any kind of important celebrity in the world. They are stalked by the paparazzi, interviewed on television, and kids everywhere dress up just like them and pretend to be them. Just like if you saw Brad Pitt walking down the street, Italian football players are beloved and followed by their dedicated fans. If you are going to be a real fan, you need to be prepared to be enthusiastic about that as well.
But the captain of the team is treated less like a movie star and more like some kind of feudalist king. People do not cheer for the opposing team. Take note of that or you will need to be prepared to be pummeled. The fans follow the lead of the captain and the other players follow his orders like he was a military leader. It can be intense, so just know what you are getting yourself into before you dive head in.
Critical Football Games happen nearly daily
If you want to follow what is happening with football all over the country, you will need to be prepared to watch a lot of football and read a lot of recaps. During the peak season, it will begin to feel like there is some crucial game happening every night. And it really does happen all year as well. While there is an off-season, during the off-season there will be other clubs playing in order to fill in the need to watch football all the time. The biggest clubs are in the Serie A league though which also has the best players who make the most money.
Bottom line: you need to be ready to be excited about football and dive headfirst into fandom.