21st June 2018
A shock to the system: An Italian perspective on the World Cup
UCFB graduate Manfredi Miyashita is excelling as a sports marketing agent in Italy. Here he provides an insight into the mood in Italy following their failure to qualify for the World Cup and outlines what the Italian system, clubs and players can learn from it.
What is the mood and reception to Russia 2018 in Italy?
With Italy out of the World Cup, inevitably, the mood isn’t very high and many people are finding it difficult to get excited about the games. I think what the majority of the fans are interested in at the moment, is in following their clubs’ players and transfer targets, and “supporting” those teams. But the reality is that there is a lot of disappointment in the air and the whole buzz around the tournament isn’t very high.
How does it differ to previous World Cups when Italy are not only involved but usually one of the favourites to win it?
I think the main difference is in the build-up and how the World Cup is currently being lived. Usually, weeks prior to the start of the World Cup, we’re used to seeing flags everywhere, shops and restaurants building their themes around the event, and generally feeling the buzz around the country. This hasn’t happened this time and even the media is finding it difficult to produce exciting content around the World Cup.
What impact do you think it will have on the star Italian players?
I think this is a moment in Italian football where a generational shift is happening. The young players are finding it difficult to step up and become stars, while the more established players are almost at the end of their playing career, so there is an evident gap in the middle. For example, when Italy won the World Cup in 2006, world-class players like Del Piero, Totti, Buffon, Gattuso and Cannavaro were all in their prime, whereas, in this Italy side, there aren’t many players that have international recognition, respect, and experience. In my opinion, the only star players Italy have are Bonucci and Chiellini, two players that are over 30. My hope is that this World Cup failure lights a fire in the younger generation like Donnarumma, Caldara, Chiesa and Belotti, and pushes them to wear the Italian shirt with pride and responsibility in future tournaments.
Will it have any impact on the Serie A at all?
It’s definitely been a big blow for the whole system and the decline of Italian football is evident, but many clubs are now working hard on rebuilding their foundations, from building a new stadium, to grassroot changes and foreign investments. This will hopefully benefit the national team in the upcoming years. I think a change in the entire system was needed and coming regardless, but this World Cup failure inevitably greatly impacted the Serie A and accelerated the change. I’m expecting to see more young players given a chance in the National Team and more clubs operating with healthy foundations and through innovative activities that enforce sustainability.