To understand the extent to which the Italian national team’s victory in the European Football Championship against England took on a meaning beyond the sporting value of the cup, it is necessary to describe the scene that materialized yesterday in Brussels. Justus Lipsius Palace. Eurogroup meeting. With all of the Union Finance Ministers, the US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, will be hosted.
After a series of interventions, word passed to Italian economics owner Daniele Franco. But this word you can not get. The speech didn’t even start. The meeting participants, usually highly organized and bureaucratic in some respects, stand as if they were in the curve of the stadium. There was applause that lasted more than a minute. It is of course not aimed at Franco, but rather the European champion in Italy. Congratulations on raising your arms. An episode rarely occurs in muffled EU offices. Where every gesture follows a precise protocol.
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So much so that the Italian minister himself does not know what to do for a few moments. Surprised by this applause and somewhat unprepared to deal with a more emotional than a “technical” situation.
After all, throughout the day and in all the offices of the three major community institutions, nothing else was talked about. From clerks to commissioners and from ministers to ministers’ drivers. As if it really wasn’t just a game. Or at least it’s not just a game of “football,” as the British used to say. In fact, it was not just a football match. As at least two factors have emerged behind the Tricolor victory at Wembley, both are outside the realm of tradition and within the geopolitics of recent years.
The first concerns Britain’s exit from the European Union. Union governments suffered from Brexit. The negotiations conducted by Boris Johnson were long and exhausting. He left a mark. And everyone – from France to Germany, from Spain to Belgium – in front of the final with England waited for nothing but a good slap on UK arrogance. Political arrogance and sports arrogance last week. It was enough to read the headline in the Irish Times to understand the amount of revenge on the “Brexiteer” that enveloped the podium in London that was awarded to the Mancini players.
So it was considered as revenge. It exploded, in fact, at the top of the Eurogroup. With American Yellen, the only person who probably didn’t fully realize the meaning of what was actually happening.
The second factor. It is directly related to our country. The feeling at the EU summit is that the European Championship has in fact interrupted and concluded a kind of ‘national renaissance’. The The New York Times I defined it this way. It is often this inexplicable combination that makes up the aura. The official US newspaper compares the pandemic crisis of the past eighteen months and the restoration of the role with the inauguration of the Draghi government “whose high international standing has helped transform Italy from a small player on the European scene. The driving force.”
The point is that the Blue Victory in London seems to have perpetuated its effects on politics. impart charisma. Thus the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, and the President of the Council, Mario Draghi, became the institutional faces of the Sports Victory. This is not the first time. Often times the opposite also happened. As happened in 2010 in South Africa and to some extent Silvio Berlusconi suffered the brunt of the crisis. Especially for comparison to the victory four years ago when Romano Prodi sat at Palazzo Chigi.
Of course, there is still an individual convergence of positive opinions about the blue victory. From Pope Francis to the United States, and from Merkel to Macron. Probably because the “Draghi-Mattarella couple” is experienced in the EU as a guarantee. Kind of confirmation that Italy can be a winner in Brussels as well as at Wembley. “You see – said a few days ago the leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber – here they are all Mario fans.”
The Italian Prime Minister is considered a card spent in the coming months. When Angela Merkel – the union’s undisputed leader for the past 15 years – leaves the scene with the upcoming elections in September. And when Macron must commit to winning another challenge with Marine Le Pen at the Elysee next spring. Thus, in one night, football became a kind of mirror of the dynamics of politics and international relations.
Even three years ago that was the case. After our historic exit from the World Cup in the play-off with Sweden. It was the end of 2017. A few months later the elections arrived. In this case, it still writes a file The New York TimesAn anti-European coalition formed by the Lega di Matteo Salvini alliance and the populist and anti-establishment Five Star Movement chose Giuseppe Conte, a little-known law professor, to lead the country. Years of political drama, intimacy with Donald Trump and threats to the “European Union”.
So, the tragedy of Covid and now, just today, the final green light for a recovery fund instead. Sometimes the ball isn’t just a ball to be kicked.
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