Who is in control of Sundays in Italy – Soccer or Church?
By Rosario Mariani, http://www.europebychoice.com
Modern-day soccer was brought to Italy from England at the end of the 19th Century, where it has become an extremely popular sport and national pastime. By 1934, Italy had won its first FIFA World Cup and then won again in 1938, 1982 and 2006.
It has only been surpassed by Brazil who won 5 other world championships. Soccer is not just a sport in Italy: it is a way-of-life. Calcio, as it is known in Italy, is gradually overtaking the public’s attention on Sundays.
Soccer clubs have built beautiful and large historic stadiums as cathedrals to the game, and the fans (i tifosi) are devoted to their home team (squadra). Fans will go to any length to attend a Sunday match even if they have to travel out-of-town and at a considerable cost.
Soccer is addictive and – as every Italian household knows – Sundays from 2 p.m. to the late evening is devoted to soccer matches at the stadiums, on TV, radio, social media, or in newspapers and magazines.
On the other hand, attendance at religious Mass on Sunday mornings is down. On a recent trip to Italy, I have noticed that women and children sit in the pews to listen to the priest’s sermon, while most men stand in the back of the church, often outside the main entrance, to discuss that afternoon’s game logistics, as well as other gossip with friends.
My recommendation is that both soccer and religion have a place in the Italian way of life, but an effort has to be made to respect and preserve the latter and make it a very important part of Sunday throughout Italy.
Rosario Mariani is the owner/CEO of Europe By Choice, which promotes travel to Italy and other select European countries. He has more than 40 years of experience in the travel industry, previously serving as Director of Italy Product for Italiatour and Club ABC Tours, and also in other positions with EuroFly, Alitalia and Air France.