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My Sweet Sixteen – Why Serie A should reduce in size

Collapse of a system

Italian football is facing a time of crisis in terms of both financial and sporting performances. Clubs are struggling in the European Cups, they have lost power in the transfer market, and the appeal of the league for foreign investors has plummeted – they are choosing La Liga and the Premier League to spend their money on. This is a consequence of poor management and short-sighted planning during the golden years between the late 80s and throughout the 90s, in which Italy could have set the table for a long period of domination over Europe.
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Scotland 1-4 Italy U21s – Azzurrini cause Scotland to scream blue murder

Edinburgh 25 April 2012

Ciro Ferrara brought his young squad to a very cold Easter Road for a last friendly before they resume their qualifiers next month against Ireland.  There were a number of noticeable absentees due to the rescheduling of Serie A fixtures following the tragic death of Piermario Morosini, such as Stephane El Shaarawy and Mattia Destro.  However, it is fair to say that their replacements took their chance to shine, playing well in difficult conditions to run out 4-1 winners against Scotland.
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All for nothing – Has Cristiano Doni ruined Atalanta’s Serie A campaign?

As Atalanta signed off for the winter break with a 4-1 thrashing of Cesena, coach Stefano Colantuono could look back on the season so far work with a degree of satisfaction after all he has contended with. The club had it’s proud name dragged through the mud in the Calcioscommese match fixing scandal that initially cost them six points at the start of the season and continues to drag on, with former Nerazzurri hero Cristiano Doni again implicated for fixing Atalanta games in their successful Serie B promotion campaign last season.

Cristiano Doni: Out for the count now

Cristiano Doni: Out for the count now


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Lega Pro clubs pay the price for calcioscommese

After the 2006 ‘Calciopoli’ scandal, many – perhaps naively – felt that the Italian game was now clean and that those involved had been implicated in the trials and subsequent sentences that rocked the Italian game to its core. But this summer, another investigation was concluded after suspicious betting patterns emerged during games throughout the 2010/2011 season, which were then followed up by intercepted phone calls clearly alluding to games being fixed across three divisions and involving a host of people including current players and even former Italy striker and Lazio legend, Giuseppe Signori.

Marco Paoloni was the man at the centre of the scandal

Marco Paoloni was the man at the centre of the scandal

The impact of the investigations and convictions have been felt throughout Calcio, with Atalanta in Serie A being the most famous club punished, with a six point deduction before the Serie A season started and have had star player and club icon Cristiano Doni banned for three and a half years. But perhaps the biggest ‘victims’ are clubs in Lega Pro where numerous clubs have been relegated, fined and had points deducted before the season started. Here I briefly look at the investigation that took place, those punished and the impact it has had on the game in the lower leagues.

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Hakuna Matata #10: Peter Shilton and the cult of the replica

By Matt McMahon

Italia ’90 is the first World Cup I can remember, I watched a lot of the football and I remember being allowed to stay up late for the England games, I completed my World Cup wall chart immaculately, detailing every scorer and completing all the group tables.

Shilton's experience provided solidity to England at Italia '90

Shilton's experience provided solidity to England at Italia '90

Unfortunately being only 9 years old it’s the extra peripheral stuff I remember more clearly. Our school ran a competition to design a World Cup poster. I didn’t win, I have never won anything to do with art, I’m not blessed in that department, but I remember a selection of the best ones being in the corridors for the entire build up and throughout the world cup. This should be introduced in my office during major sporting events, I plan to pin up an Olympic planner in my office next summer so everyone can stand around it and plan their evening’s TV viewing.
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Hakuna Matata #9: The magic of the cup

By Adam Bate

Childhood memories are a powerful thing. Until the age of nine I kept a scrapbook outlining the events of each game I attended. I can remember every one of those early matches and I recently wrote a detailed account of my first ever game for The Ball Is Round.

Dave Beasant saves a John Aldridge penalty in the 1988 FA Cup Final

Dave Beasant saves a John Aldridge penalty in the 1988 FA Cup Final

But both the beauty and the problem of being a football fan is that – unless you’re David Mellor or Tim Lovejoy – it means regularly returning to the same venue. Again. And again. And again. The action becomes blurred, seasons blend into one and before you know it you’ve spent a decade watching Dele Adebola ripping your perennially feeble defence to shreds.

Perhaps this is why my earliest recollections of falling in love with this game centre on the FA Cup Final. I sense I’ve already lost the teenagers among you but you’ll have to trust me – it was a big deal. What’s more, I can tell you where I was for every final of my formative years as a fan.
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Player profile: Rafael

Verona currently have a team in Serie A in the shape of Chievo, but the flying donkeys aren’t the city’s first love. Having been overtaken by their cousins and spent a long time in Serie B and Lega Pro (Serie C) over the past few years, it is somewhat unbelievable that Hellas Verona are the best supported team in the Veneto city. Their fans start at the very top with the mayor too, and their attendances regularly match and eclipse Chievo’s. Charles Ducksbury has kindly offered to regale us with the tale of one of the club’s heroes. I present you Hellas Verona goalkeeper – Rafael.

Hellas Verona's 'keeper Rafael

Hellas Verona's 'keeper Rafael


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