That is an overstatement obviously, but Italian football does seem to be hotbed of naive footballers with some extreme political views. I am not closely enough involved in Italian football to be able to prescribe a solution, but I can certainly detect a problem.
AC Milan keeper Christian Abbiati is the latest player to declare himself a card-carrying fascist. He said: “I am not ashamed to proclaim my political beliefs. I share [the] ideals of fascism, such as the fatherland and the values of the Catholic religion.”
So he is either very stupid or knows exactly how far he push his views in public.
Handpicking a couple of “ideals of fascism”, which do not seem particularly offensive for public consumption is reckless. How many impressionable Milanese kids will think that fascism is the best route to a contract with AC Milan? Youngsters whose education of the loss of life during the Second World War might not be quite as thorough as previous generations.
I cannot vouch for whether Abbiatti knows any better or not, but he certainly should. You can respect your country and your religion without bringing fascism into the equation. What Abbiatti invokes, deliberately or otherwise, is support for Benito Mussolini and the brand of totalitarian regime that swept across Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. History tells us that this form of rule does not tend to conclude pleasantly.
This might all be a bit heavy – and I am normally one for keeping politics out of football where possible – but if players, and notably Italian players are to begin spouting the virtues of fascist regimes through the media with increasing regularity then a little more careful analysis is required.
Abbiati is not the first player to make his fascist views public. Paolo Di Canio has famously celebrated goals with fascist salutes and shown off his fascist tattoos on the pitch. It is probably a fair criticism of Di Canio to say that while his football brain was genius, perhaps his common sense leaves a little to be desired.
Short of the aforementioned compulsory history lessons, perhaps some of the games more academic minds should engage in a debate on the subject.