Tobias Jones - The Dark Heart of Italy

Rating 6.5

What's the problem with the Italian football?

Why decent and smart British authors like, say, Nick Hornby, Tim Parks and John Foot were (are?) so fascinated by that unimportant part of our culture?

Where is the romanticism in contemporary Italian football, I wonder?
Where is the fair-play, the chivalry, the grit?

For Tobias Jones has been deceived too.
Let's put ourselves in his football shoes for a few lines.

I am a British journalist.
I moved to Italy, because my girlfriend is Italian.
I live in Parma.
I have Italian friends and a praiseworthy knowledge of the Italian language including its less common subtleties.
I write about Italy as a freelance.
I am published on The Guardian.
My range of topics includes social issues, religion, culture, politics and, yes, football.
I support Parma Fc.

Well done. Let's get out of Tobias' shoes now.
Let's talk to him.

Ok, Tobias, you are maybe the only English speaking author I read so far and writing about Italy who didn't make a single grammar or spelling mistake while using Italian terms.
You have to be praised for this. I have to reckon it.

But listen, you are a journalist. You write about politics. There is a photo of Berlusconi at a rally winkling beyond the glass of an olive oil bottle in the front cover of your book.
Therefore you are supposed to know many things about the Italian power map. Isn't it?

Well, here we are.
How the Hell, Tobias, can you have the nerve to pretend that Parma Fc was the "Cinderella" (quoting you) of the seven Italian top teams? How can you dare to tell us that their victories were unexpected, creating the myth of a provincial team beating richful and powerful squads?

Parma Fc, dear Tobias, was far from being an outsider, the Italian equivalent of a pennyless 2nd Division Team winning the FA Cup.
Do you know who owned the team? Calisto Tanzi, the infamous president of Parmalat. It was the same Tanzi who bought minor players such as Thuram, Buffon, Cannavaro, Crespo or Veron in those years spending hundreds of millions of euros. And where this loose change was coming from? Parmalat.
Yeah the same worldwide company responsible of the biggest financial fraud we have ever had in Europe.
The brand "Parmalat" was printed on the yellow and blue jerseys of Parma Fc, that "Cinderella" team of outsiders you were naively supporting.

Tobias, Tobias, Tobias...
If you write about "The Dark Heart of Italy" and omit to tell us some things just because you want to please the British audience of your book, with the picturesque fairytale of the little provincial team winning over Juventus (that's actually how the book ends!), this is not very professional.

Moreover, the whole book is a bit discontinuos. My impression is that sometimes you just touch the surface of things without going any further. The book has its moments and it's impressive how much you got of the Italian way of thinking, but on its whole "The Dark Heart of Italy" is the journalistic equivalent of chick-lit novels.
A bestseller with no grip.

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