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“Thank you” from a reader

I receive emails daily about everything. Some ask questions about practice, some send material that I sometimes use in the news letters, some just enjoy insulting me and some others write to say, “Thanks“.

I asked permission to reprint this email. Aside from the vanity for the compliment for my work, it correctly criticizes my country, because someone made some bad mistakes.


Dear Coach Gianni,

Hope all is well. I read and distribute your newsletter and share your love of Italian football. This love started with the 1970 World Cup when I was 14 and living in Tehran, Iran. That was the first World Cup that was broadcasted live by satellite. My following of Italian teams and the Azzuris (and All things Italian) was cemented in 1978 when I lived for a summer in Firenze and Perugia.

I have been reading your recent newsletters covering the World Cup over and over, savoring every word and relishing your pride in the Italian culture along with the insights on how the Azzuris play with an intelligence and style that truly transcends the boundaries of the pitch. It was a long wait since 1982- and a well deserved win for the team and all of the fans - and more importantly for football!

Along with friends and family I celebrated the games and took solace that even if Iran could not make it to the second round "my" Azzuris managed to play the game with guile and panache they have uniquely invented to victory.

As you know football has been marred by racism that is now rampant in every aspect of our lives and rearing its ugly head in European stadiums where many marquee players of different countries and continents share and display their skills. I take pride that FIFA recognizes the important role it plays to bring people of the world together to compete and celebrate an event we ALL share with love and passion. Ultimately the game promotes sportsmanship and peace, and football is the unique event that brings the planet together to marvel and celebrate the artistry of the Baggios, Ronaldinhos, Cannavaros, Thurams, Zidanes and the (Ali) Daies.

In the ensuing celebration I saw the attached (below) article and news item in the New York Times, where George Vecsey the columnist who eloquently celebrates football and especially the Italian style of playing the "beautiful game". I was more than disturbed - hurt and ultimately bewildered. Somehow the long-awaited victory has found shades of gray.

Perhaps I could have managed to somehow look the other way and attribute this behavior to a few bad apples - but I couldn't. How could one "explain" when a former minister (Roberto Calderoli, the recent Minister of Reform and member of the Northern League party) says that the Italians had vanquished a French team that was comprised of "Negroes, communists and Moslems."

The French "politicians" are no strangers to making racial slurs against their national team and players. In Spain Barca's star Eto'o hears monkey jeers and bananas thrown at him. And the list goes on and on - marring the beauty of one communal activity on this planet that does not (should not) involve guns and is here to promote unity and celebrate our "differences".

And then one reads that celebrations in Rome included painting swastikas and graffiti in Jewish neighborhoods of Rome. One does not have to look further - and the images repeat themselves at every Lazio game. And there is the lingering "text" of the "interactions" between Zidane and Marco Materazzi. The latter would have not been a "problem" if all of football and the world were not blemished by these manifestations of troubling images and news. The "news story" ends: "Mr. Calderoli's television appearance precipitated attacks on the Italian embassy in Libya in which at least 11 people were killed and dozens injured." No comments needed!

We need to fight this disease - to save the game and more importantly what it brings to a world marred by war and guns and symbols of hatred. If Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) team can bring a few hours of peace and unity to a country split in a long bloody civil war - the game needs to be saved. It starts here on the soccer (and football) fields of the Bay Area and in the slums of Cairo and Rio and Palermo and ..... .

I thank you for bringing your wisdom to the community and spreading the beautiful game and preaching for the unity and joy good and clean competition brings to our communities.

Be Well & Best Wishes .... Näder

(a life-long Azzurri fan)


Thanks Nader,

For your email. I totally agreed with every word. My only comment is that for painting a swastika, it takes one person. To insult a country, it takes one person. A few individuals, ruin the great job of millions of citizens that, everyday, make their country a better place to live in.

I’m sure that with the passing of time, these few individuals will find themselves more and more isolated by civilized society. Even if these few are part of a political current, their voters will abandon them to their crazy dreams.

People like you are the ones that make the difference, not them.

Coach Gianni

Posted on 15 Aug 2006 by coachgianni
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