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Italian national team collapse: everyone is now rightfully demanding Gravina’s resignation, which won’t happen but who knows… Because the problem with the national team and the FIGC that governs it is that its president is merely the “lame duck” of Italian football

Bring Me the Head of Gravina

(Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Sam Peckinpah, 1974)

Gabriele Gravina, president of the FIGC since 2018, is considered responsible for Italy's failure at Euro 2024 in Germany. Despite Italy's elimination in the round of 16, Gravina has stated that he will not resign.


GRAVINA: EVERYONE NOW WANTS HIS RESIGNATION

Now and only now does everyone want Gabriele Gravina to resign. Born in Abruzzo to Puglian parents, Gravina, 70, is a construction entrepreneur and has dabbled in various other fields. He rose to the heights of Italian football with the miracle of Castel di Sangro in the mid-90s, climbing from position to position until he reached the presidency of the FIGC (Italian Football Federation) in 2018.

This followed, mind you, the Azzurri disaster and the ensuing FIGC crisis caused by the failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. Coach Ventura was dismissed, and then-president Carlo Tavecchio, who had already been involved in several controversies—remember the Optì Pobà story?—was forced by public outcry to step down.

In other words, the predecessor was forced out, but Gravina, with an equally missed World Cup and a disgraceful European Championship, got off scot-free. All this is forgotten in the euphoria of the European Championship victory at Wembley, which apparently buys him several more years of covering up various mistakes.

It’s like someone who’s taken out comprehensive insurance on their luxury car.

GRAVINA AND CHURCHILL’S FAMOUS QUOTE

But okay, this is a story you already know, and the outrage is fair and justified. No, because we have a long list of bureaucrats glued to their chairs. Including coaches or players bound by contracts. In the end, it’s always the same story.

Indeed, someone has already cited Churchill’s famous phrase: “I have resigned, but I refuse to accept my resignation.” In Italy, the practice of clinging to one’s position, as if they were all Vittorio Alfieri tying himself to his chair to study or Ulysses resisting the sirens’ call, is practically more than a custom—it’s an institution. They’re all doing us a favor by staying…

GRAVINA ON VIA ALLEGRI AND FAZIO ON VIA NAZIONALE: THE UNRESIGNABLE

In 2005, the Governor of the Bank of Italy, Antonio Fazio, resisted for six months alone in his office on Via Nazionale in Rome, despite the entire country calling for his resignation due to a major political-judicial scandal.

Imagine if one couldn’t stoically resist on Via Allegri, also in Rome, where football has built an almost impregnable fortress over the years. Even the special forces can’t breach it.

That said, the media finally mustered the courage when Gravina’s indefensibility reached a red-alert level. Before that, Gravina essentially governed undisturbed, with a general sense of collegiality and no media opposition.

Except for internal strife, like with Lotito, his sworn enemy since the Salernitana affair, or the showdown with Juventus over the plusvalenze (capital gains) case. But being a shrewd manager of sporting and political alliances, Gravina floated calmly in the stagnant waters of Italian football.

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ITALIAN VERSION

Nazionale crac: tutti chiedono, solo ora, le sacrosante dimissioni di Gravina, che non ci saranno ma chissà… Perché il problema della Nazionale, e della Federcalcio che la governa, è quello di un presidente che è soltanto “l’anatra zoppa” del calcio italiano

 

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GRAVINA AND TOO MANY BROKEN PROMISES

Gravina was criticizable and attackable long before, especially on the issue of broken promises. Everyone who reaches the top of football promises reforms, a new game, a slimming diet against the bloated leagues, youth sectors, fewer foreigners, less TV intrusion, but then does little or nothing and leaves everything practically as it is.

There’s a Gravina case because there’s a case of a FIGC president who is, in effect, a “lame duck.” A man of power chained by cross-vetoes and unable to build anything, except for a low-level compromise that doesn’t disturb anyone and ensures his own survival.

We’ll see who runs for FIGC president, but I don’t believe anyone else in Gravina’s place would do much differently.

GRAVINA AND A FIGC INFLUENCED BY CLUBS AND THE SERIE A LEAGUE

Today, the FIGC is essentially influenced by the Serie A League; the clubs have both direct and indirect control over the management of football in Italy. The FIGC president shouldn’t disturb and can do very little on his own.

He is in a continuous and exhausting search for a compromise he will never find if he wants to revolutionize the status quo. Because either football is changed as Juventus, Inter, Milan, Roma, etc., want, or nothing changes at all.

Even though the interests are different and the disagreements between clubs are enormous, the balance of power in football is increasingly tilted towards the Serie A League and the main clubs. The others can at best contain that overwhelming power.

A classic scenario is the big clubs’ anger, who support the entire football economy, towards the players who are the protagonists or the amateurs who are millions.

It would now be fair and dignified for Gravina to resign, but after months of power struggles and candidacies (there’s even talk of Malagò being forced to leave CONI, but he might not technically have time, plus he has the Milan-Cortina 2026 Olympics), we would almost certainly end up with someone who would essentially do the same things as Gravina. A transparent government, not in terms of operational clarity, but because it is irrelevant and incapable of solving the known problems.

BETWEEN GRAVINA AND SPALLETTI, SPALLETTI PROBABLY CALLS THE SHOTS…

For a new, rejuvenated, and more competitive National team, the president should be the guarantor and the operational arm. Much more than Gigi Buffon, who has a purely internal role and whose practicality I can’t even gauge. I have the distinct impression, for example, that between Gravina and Spalletti, Spalletti commands and imposes himself.

When instead, it should be the opposite: the president should be on top of the coach, reminding him of his duties, preventing him from overstepping, and coordinating the entire operation like General Montgomery.

GRAVINA AND SHIFTING RESPONSIBILITY TO THE COACH

Instead of putting the team in the best conditions, the National team, through the FIGC president, dangerously inflates the coaches’ egos, making them oversized and out of proportion characters. This is not the best management and is also a more or less indirect way of shifting responsibility. “Eh, I put the best possible coach in place…”, “He takes care of everything…”.

But you can’t delegate everything to the coach. It means making him believe he’s really Furio Camillo, the general and dictator of Republican Rome, who immensely enjoyed triumphs and white horse parades.

GRAVINA AND THE “LAME DUCK” AT THE TOP OF FIGC

Demanding Gravina’s rightful resignation and those responsible for the Berlin disaster also means, above all, worrying about removing the major clubs’ influence over the fundamental choices of Italian football. And there, the clubs have very powerful levers of command and exceptional influence.

The media, with a bit of strength and commitment, could also push Gravina to leave, or at least not to run again next year for his third consecutive term, but then they would bend as usual to the winds of the various reference clubs.

No one wants a FIGC that acts in the interest of the National team; everyone wants a FIGC that benefits this or that entity. So the outrage towards Gravina glued to his chair is both sacred and hypocritical. And proven by the fact that today we are having the same exact discussions as when the National team started failing at the World Cups, right after the triumphant 2006.

IF NOT GRAVINA, IT WILL BE HIS AVATAR DOING THE SAME THINGS

And so, the “lame duck” is very convenient for the majority. Whether Gravina or a similar avatar is at the helm of the FIGC changes practically nothing. It’s our stubborn, convinced, and cunning “Gattopardism” applied to the sport most loved by Italians (meh…). And now in a strong identity crisis. Everything changes, nothing changes.

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LEGGI ANCHE

TUTTO IL CALCIO DI GERMANIA 2024

CARO DIARIO AZZURRO, L’ITALIA GIORNO PER GIORNO

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