January 18, 2022

The incredible summer of Italian sport, a simple enchanting parenthesis?

The incredible Italian sporting summer, punctuated by the triumphs of Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri at the Euro and Marcell Jacobs over 100 meters at the Olympic Games, will it wear off as quickly as a holiday tan or will it mark? there a lasting rebirth?

Donnarumma stopping the penalty kick then Chiellini lifting the European Cup for the first time since 1968. The unexpected Marcell Jacobs winning the 100 m Olympic between disbelief and sometimes some doubts, before doing it again in the 4×100 relay.

But also Gianmarco Tamberi crowned at the height, during Olympic and Paralympic Games records for the Azzurri (40 and 69 medals). Sonny Colbrelli winner of a Paris-Roubaix dantesque. An Italian (Berrettini) for the first time in the Wimbledon final. And Italy, European champion in volleyball (women and men), softball and even American football!

To the sound of the riffs of the group Maneskin, the first Italian winner at Eurovision since 1990, the country has had the opportunity of many collective celebrations, after more than a year of the Covid pandemic.

“After what happened in the world, especially in Italy where we were among the first to be affected by the Covid, we were pleased to bring happiness and a little peace to people”, s’ is delighted this fall Roberto Mancini.

– “Need” to embrace –

“After a year and a half marked by death, disease and confinement, sport has brought back shared emotions that people need. And the joy of winning has been doubled by that of being able to embrace each other,” explained to AFP Nicola Sbetti, sports historian at the University of Bologna.

“Once again, sport (like food) asserts itself as a somewhat paradoxical vector of patriotism: capable of uniting Italians at the international level while it is one of the main elements of division at the national level”, remarks he does.

“The euphoria of the festivities made it possible to taste the return of a life with less restrictions”, confirms to AFP Moris Gasparri, academic and essayist, adviser for women’s football to the Italian Federation.

While allowing Italians to regain pride in their sport, “in strong decline since 2010”, between football clubs deprived of titles in European Cups, Ferrari team outdated in F1 and end of career of national legends (Del Piero , Totti, Rossi, Pellegrini).

Italian Marcell Jacobs celebrates with the flag of Italy his triumph in the men’s 100m final at the Tokyo Olympic Games, at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, on August 1, 2021. (AFP / Archives – Javier SORIANO)

These “magic nights”, this catchy refrain taken from a song of 1990 returned this summer to the taste of the day, will they pass the winter?

“It is still early to say if this will be an important moment, possibly coinciding with a rebirth after the economic decline of the last thirty years”, according to Moris Gasparri.

For Nicola Sbetti, it “will probably depend a lot” on the evolution of the pandemic.

– “Fancy sport” –

“But if within a few months, thanks to vaccines, the virus disappears, it is not excluded that the sporting successes of the summer of 2021 may be associated with the end of this period. A bit like the victory at the World Cup. 1982 (football) has become, not without exaggeration, a symbol of the end of the years of lead “, underlines the historian.

On a purely sporting level, the summer already seems far away for the Nazionale, who missed the direct qualification for the next World Cup in November and will have to go through dangerous roadblocks in March.

As for a “booster” effect of the successes on the practice of sport among young people, “this phenomenon exists but, like the victories, does not last long”, estimates Moris Gasparri.

The real “lasting legacy” could more, according to him, be the imminent entry into force of a government reform to develop sports education in primary schools, “a historic lack in the Italian school system”.

With this reform, “we are closing the gap that existed between our country and other European countries, it is the best medal of this extraordinary year”, assures AFP the Under-Secretary for Sports (and former Olympic medalist fencer) Valentina Vezzali.

Italy's Sofia Goggia poses with her trophy after winning the Women's Super-G at the Alpine Skiing World Cup stage in Val-d'Isère in the French Alps on December 19, 2021. (AFP - Jeff PACHOUD)

Italy’s Sofia Goggia poses with her trophy after winning the Women’s Super-G at the Alpine Skiing World Cup stage in Val-d’Isère in the French Alps on December 19, 2021. (AFP – Jeff PACHOUD)

“The results of this magical year for Italy have generated a great desire for sport, it is enough to see the athletics fields taken by storm by young people ready to emulate Marcell Jacobs”, she rejoices.

These young people hope to still have the opportunity to dream in 2022, perhaps as early as February with Jacobs, back on the slopes with a lot of pressure, or the skier Sofia Goggia at the Winter Olympics.