Recently I took my son and daughter to a Fiorentina soccer game. Fiorentina is the Serie A soccer team for the city of Florence. The team has been around since 1926 and people in this area are passionate about “football” and the Viola, as Fiorentina is known for their signature purple jerseys.
There are 20 teams in the top Italian league known as Serie A–and the top four teams at the end of the year get to play in the European Champions League next season. Fiorentina made it this past season–but also made an early exit. In my opinion they tried to add to many new players and it took most of the season to gel. But as of last week they qualified for next year’s Champions League as well. So it has been really fun to watch them.
We have been to six games since living here. Slowly I have caught on to the intricaies of the game and have really grown to appreciate the beauty of the game. Calcio, as it is known in Italian, is a game of angles, speed and skill. It is really fun to watch a good team that has been together for awhile–to see them do amzing things with their feet and find the appropriate angle every time as they advance the ball down the field and score a goal. Equally as fun is watching the ultra fans keep up the team chants and flag waving all game long. In Fiorentina’s stadium these ultra fans sit in the Fiesole Curve–pictured at the top. They come early and stay late and really do have an impact on the players motivation.
Calcio in Italy is very much like Italy–out of apparent confusion comes beauty. Out of suspicion and distrust comes a certain amount of honor (four years ago there was a major cheating scandal that affected several clubs–including ours). Out of an attitude of low hope for change comes an unrivaled passion for the sport and all things Italian. Out of country that is still largely divided by city state thinking comes a unified zeal when the national team plays–and wins the World Cup–as they did in 2006.
The Italian fans are very warm towards us as Americans–who certainly don’t hold the same level of knowledge and historical appreciation for this game in constant motion. They kindly explain what needs explaining, share their food with us inside the stadium walls, and help us get pointed in the right direction when its time to go home.
By the way–Fiorentina lost today 2-0 to AC Milan–but we are still in Champions League for next season–here’s looking to 2009-10. Forza Viola!