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How football on Italian TV is revolutionary, leaving Sky and BT Sprout way behind

By Tony Attwood

As you may have read Sky and BT paid less this time round for their TV coverage, but still charge their customers the same.  But one would hardly expect anything else.

However given that they appear to have an insatiable desire to charge more and more for less and less I wondered if they might decide to follow the lead of Channel 152 in Italy: Mondo Calcio.  That either means “Soccer World” or “World Football” depending on your point of view.

For on Mondo Calcio they have a programme called Top Calcio 24 which means, well, actually I don’t know what it means.  As Untold’s correspondent in Switzerland who was in charge of this line of research said on facing this linguistic conundrum, maybe it means they run the same show all the way through the day.

Anyway, the programme consists of three guys on a stage, each peering at a TV screen.  But since they don’t have the rights to the show, we only see the back of the screen.  A bit like Sky on a saturday afternoon.

So the matches continue and the guys commentate which is really like turning TV into radio.  But then everything changed, because Juventus scored the first goal of the game and the commentators went wild, jumping about, leaving their seats to run around the studio and so forth.

Eventually however they calm down a little and one of them goes over to a magnetic board and gets out a collection of coin sized magnets with player numbers on them, with one magnet representing the ball.  The commentator then gives a run down of the goal using the magnetic players, changing their positions, showing where the ball goes, and then firing the ball into the goal.

All the commentators leap up again and shout “Goal!” or maybe on occasion “ha segnato un gol brillante” or words to that effect.

Now you might think that is enough excitement for one evening, but no.  Because when half time comes they do replays of the goal on the magnetic board – but in slow motion as befits a replay – before going over to the games from last weekend.

But here, there is none of the laid back, we’ve already seen it but now we are going to give you an extra insight into how some player that we are currently talking up a lot avoided a particular blade of grass and waited until a chant from the supporters might distract the keeper, and then took the kick.

No, none of that “listen to me, I have a theory” stuff.  Nope, none of that malarkey.  These guys show the slow-mo replays from midweek and still shout out Goal! in very loud voices and jump around and celebrate as if it were real, live and NOW!!!!

The view from our correspondent is that this really is great fun because you can see these guys genuinely  are enjoying themselves and love inventing new ways of talking about football.  There is none of this quasi-academic analysis showing that Liverpool have scored more of their first half goals after half time than any other club in this season’s Champions League, and no attempts at mixing personal opinion with actual facts in the hope that we won’t notice.

No, this is pure and absolute entertainment, and all the better for that.

As you may know, I quite like facts and statistics, plus some analysis, but I also enjoy larking about and being silly – because that for me has always been a major part of being a supporter.

And I think both being silly and being statistical and serious should be done properly.  Don’t tell me that Arsenal have missed 14 of the last 19 significant goal scoring opportunities without telling me how those are defined, and what the scores are for other teams.  And don’t show the same old same old supposedly humorous situation over and over again and expect me to laugh.

Speaking of the pathetic inability of UK football shows to understand supporters, reminds me of when BT Sport got the contract to be Arsenal’s media partners and immediately followed it up by laughing at the utter complexity of giving teams a point for each goal scored in the Emirates Cup, and laughing at how stupid Arsenal were to expect supporters to be able to follow it and what a hopeless competition it was anyway.  That seems to be the English TV company’s notion of what supporters want.  That and utterly tedious gambling ads repeated over and over and over.

It’s a shocking thought I know, but it is just possible that it is not just Untold’s Swiss correspondent and your’s truly who can find the Italian approach refreshing and amusing.

But it does require a bit of imagination and an ability to share in football from the fans’ point of view, and I am not sure too many people associated with football on TV in England have even half a centilitre of that.

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3 comments to How football on Italian TV is revolutionary, leaving Sky and BT Sprout way behind

  • Gord

    No comments?

    Italian TV has to have more TV snippets of Gattuso.

    Is that a valid reason to watch Italian TV? I would think that if some reporter mis-quoted him, that Gattuso would tackle him.

    Szczesny seems to be handling the longevity of Buffon quite well.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    It does seem to be fun , Tony . As should the enjoyment of football always be. When I make the mistake of listening to the silly prattle of the commentators in the EPL , I almost always cringe at their stupidity .

    I know that I really shouldn’t , but they seem to be able to push the borders of stupidity further back each time. And these are average players at best , most often never having coached nor managed a club , yet able to fathom and truly understand the depths of AW’s mind !

    I remember when studying abroad , where there was no tv nor football coverage , we used to listen intently to the (old) BBC world service and listen to the richness and classy post match roundup. Those commentators were so eloquent and descriptive , that in your mind’s eye , you could imagine seeing those highlights so vividly !

    Sometimes , the present group of clowns beat even the incredulity that is the WWE !

  • Andy Mack

    I’ll add ‘Top Calcio 24’ to the list of things to avoid, along with any UK/cable TV/mainstream media Premier League analysis thanks.