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The bizzarre Supercoppa Italiana's story

It was born during a dinner with the idea from the idea of ​​exporting Italian football, but without succeeding

The bizzarre Supercoppa Italiana's story It was born during a dinner with the idea from the idea of ​​exporting Italian football, but without succeeding

Since 1908 in England there's the FA Community Shield: a trophy that confronts the winning team of the Premier League and the one of the FA Cup. Inspiring by this competition the Supercoppa Italiana was born in 1988

It was an evening in early summer and around a table of a Calabrese restaurant in Milan were seated the members of the "Blue Circle", a prestigious and elite circle of supporters of Sampdoria. They were seven journalists, a Calabrese who had been a Juventus fan and the honorary member Paolo Mantovani, who was the president of Sampdoria. It was to this one that Ezio D'Orsi, who at that time wrote for Corriere dello Sport, proposed to play a final with the winner of the Serie A, after Sampdoria had won the Coppa Italia. From a circle whose mission was to spread the Dorian story was born the competition that had , even if with poor results, the ambition to transmit the tradition of Italian football through its best teams.

The coincidence with the Olympic Games in Seoul stops the event even before its departure, which was postponed to the following year: in 1989 there was two finals and both were lost by Sampdoria, the first against Milan in May and the second against Inter during winter. The Cup was born with good intentions: those was demonstrated by the gesture of donating money of the first edition, earned from the TV rights, to the football club Giarre, that played in the Serie C (the third championship in Italy). But from the beginning the enthusiasm related to the event proved himself very low: less than thirty thousand spectators attend the two finals played in San Siro in 1989. This was not a good spot for the Italian football.



Going abroad

It was only a coincidence that the first two editions were played in the home stadium: San Siro was chosen because Milan was home to the Lega Calcio, but already in 1991 it was decided to dispute the final in the stadium of the winners of the league.

This tradition did not last long: after that Maradona for Napoli, Mancini for Sampdoria and baresi for Milan raised the trophy in their home stadium, in 1993 it was decided to came abroad. The choice, taken jointly by the president of Lega Calcio Nizzola and the two clubs Milan and Torino, was dictated by the desire to find new resources because of a crisis that was investing Italian football in that years. The following year the football World Cup would have played in the USA and, even to publicize the arrival of soccer in the country with stars and stripes, Washington was chosen as the venue for the final. A billion of Lire each for the two finalists, AC Milan and Turin, was the rich prize that could not be rejected in a period of crisis in Italian football. The low interest that the Americas had for the future World did not turn for the Supercoppa, that was played on a Saturday afternoon in August: the twenty five thousand fans at the stadium occupied less than half of the seats and the cable TV broadcast the game a week later. The first experience abroad, beyond the economic prizes that were collected by the two clubs turned out to be a flop.

In 1995, after three successes of the Rossoneri (no other team has equaled a thread of successes so long), in the golden book was written the name of a new team: Juventus and Parma had dominated the Italian and European football and the assignment of the Supercoppa that year had several reasons of interest on the field, but it is remembered because of what happened out of the ground.

Remembering of contracts of the previous years, President Nizzola was looking looking for a place abroad: according to the articles of the time, he tried to play the competition in Dubai. The research mysteriously turned into small-medium Italian cities as Palermo and Terni, before falling on the Delle Alpi of Turin, the home stadium of Juventus, the winner of Serie A . For the first time that year (it happened seven times in history and will happen again this year) the team was also the winner of Coppa Italia: by regulation, the challenger of Juventus would have been the other Cup finalist, Parma, and this strange situation was not accepted by everyone, as Del Piero who defined it:

"The match we would have already won. It has no sense: we have won both Serie and Coppa Italia, we should play against ourselves. So losing it would burn us twice."

It has been also the last time in which the trophy is awarded in the year following the election: the match was played on Wednesday, January 17th, 1996 at 8.45 pm, after the broadcasting of Striscia La Notizia. In fact the match was broadcast by Mediaset, that judged the television schedules more important than the match. The date of the match did not help fans were less than five thousand. Juventus won for the first time the cup, that only eight months later passed to Fiorentina: Viola triumphed in the 1996 edition becoming the first team in the history to win the throphy without having won Scudetto.

The following year the cup returns to the Bianconeri and in 1998 the winning team was again not the winner of Scudetto: Lazio beated Juventus. Losing in that trophy was considered marginal, but it could becomes if you lose badly: Inzaghi leaves the team in ten during the second half and Lazio overcame the Bianconeri who deserted the award ceremony, which was presented six volunteers among the players to save the image.

Also the next year the final has been decide by a goal during recovery time: the winner of the last edition of the 20th century was Parma.


The first year of 21st century: Lybia and USA

2000 was the year that gives hope to a trophy that until then had brought to the stadium less spectators than a Serie C match. The match between Lazio and Inter was a great show for the over seventy thousand of fans that came to the Olimpico and saw the winning for 4 to 3.

After the 2001 edition won by AS Roma, in 2002 the Supercoppa was played in Tripoli: the choice of the Libyan capital since was because of son of Colonel Gheddafi, Saadi Muammar, was a great fan of Italian football and at that time was a minority shareholder of the Juventus, as it owned 7.5% of the club's shares. Both teams, journalists and managers of the Lega Calcio remained at Malpensa airport over 4 hours before embarking on a mysteriously late flight, due to unknown causes. The race was in danger of being postponed but then regularly disputed in a crowded stadium: Juventus triumphed on Parma with a double by Del Piero.

The project to export football abroad seemed to return to the intentions of the Lega Calcio that decided to play abroad the following year. In 2003 the Giants Stadium in New York hosted the final, and it could not have togheter better teams in the field: Juventus and Milan faced each other in a match that was the re-edition of the Champions League final. That edition was the only one with silver goal: if one of the two teams managed to close the extra first time on the lead, the trophy would be awarded directly without playing the last 15 minutes. Milan were one step away from scoring a penalty in the minute 105 with a spoonful of Pirlo but Trezeguet managed to equalize in the third minute of extra time. Bianconeri won the Super Cup on penalties it has not been a total revenge.



The return to Italy

The 2004 edition was due to return to Tripoli, with contracts already signed and money already collected by the two clubs: for Lazio, which at the time was in bankruptcy, the three hundred thousand euros of revenue were very important to save the club. But less than a month before the kick-off the Football League was forced to cancel the trip due to security problems: the attacks in Nāṣiriya and the threats of Al Qaeda to Italy represented a risk too high to bring in Libya the two teams, especially Milan, which was owned by Prime Minister Berlusconi. The hat-trick scored by Shevchenko that allowed Milan to win for the fifth time the trophy remains today the only one scored in a final of the competition.

In the 2005 edition of Supercoppa Inter coached by Mancini, at the first of seven consecutive finals, won against Juventus: a goal after 120 minutes of Veron, on his return to Italy, gives the trophy to the Nerazzurri.

From 2006 to 2008 the Supercoppa will be an affair between AS Roma and Inter: the most exciting final was the first, played at San Siro, in which Giallorossi, after passing the lead of three goals, was reassembled and surpassed by a goal by Luis Figo in extra time.

The following year AS Roma coached by Spalletti took the revenge thanks to a penalty of De Rossi. The third consecutive final between the two teams was decided on penalties, which led to the first trophy for Jose Mourinho sitting on the bench of Inter.


Competition goes to China 

2009 will be remembered for the first adventure of Italian football in China. On 8 August, in the stadium that had hosted the Olympics the year before, Inter and Lazio competed each other. Playing in Beijing was an important sign of Chinese interest in Italian football: a lot of money as prizes, about 5 million of euros, a field that was not in perfect condition and also a little football culture. Lazio, after having heard the singing chants for Totti because the Chinese fans did not recognized the difference between the two teams of the Capital, won surprisingly against Inter, which shortly thereafter would have taken the Treble.


In 2010 Nerazzurri returned to win Supercoppa beating Roma in San Siro.

In 2011 the trophy return to Beijing: the 6 million of euros that clubs receive was a prize that it could be hardly refused. In addition, the two finalists, AC Milan and Inter, can count on a growing number of fans in the country: the final was an important showcase. The awareness of the Chinese fans compared to two years before has grown: at Inter training a Chinese was surprised with AC Milan suit and only police divided fans. The first derby in the history of Supercoppaa was decided by the goals of Ibrahimovic and Boateng who, responding to Sneijder, bring the trophy back to the Rossoneri seven years after their last success.

The Chinese adventure continues the following year: in the National Stadium of Beijing, Napoli and Juventus faced each other. Massimo Carrera was sitting on the Juventus bench and not Antonio Conte, disqualified for 10 months for Calcioscommesse. This aspect did non affect Bianconeri who won for 4 to 2. Napoli criticized the refereeing conduct and defeated the award ceremony as Juventus had done in 1998: they received a fine of twenty thousand euros.



Last years

The events of the 2013 edition had no precedents in the history of Supercoppa: Lazio wanted to play the final in China to secure the income, while Juventus did not want to compromise a tour in North America that was already planned. Federcalcio and Serie A League decided to play the match in the stadium of the winning of Coppa Italia, after had payed an economic compensation to Lazio and had satisfied both clubs.

Juventus lined up Carlos Tevez who was just arrived in the club, but it was a twenty year old who decided the match after having replaced Marchisio: Paul Pogba took three minutes to score and drag their companions in the final 4 to 0.

After almost nineteen years the 2014 edition returns to play during winter: the Football World Cup and the Champions preliminaries have set the the idea of playing it in Beijing and it has been choosen to play on December 22nd in Doha, Qatar. The incomes determined the choice of the Arabic country, which will host the next World Cup in 2022. It is this last event that causes scandal: the corruption, the inhumane conditions of the workers involved in the construction of the stadiums and the death of dozens of workers did not make Qatar the best country in which to advertise Italian football. Napoli won after penalties against Juventus, claiming the defeat of two years earlier and returning the trophy twenty-four years after the last success.

The contract with UVS, a multinational company that organizes major sporting events, provided for three games to be played in China: in 2015 the Super Cup was disputed in Shanghai and after the contract was not renewed. The company filled the club coffers with money, but refused any external involvement in the preparation of the event: in front of an indecent field full of potholes, with little grass and mud areas they refused the help of an agronomist and two gardener arrived from Italy.

The controversy did not stop because during the match, won by Juventus on Lazio 2 to 0 the shots were very ridiculous. That day on Gazzetta dello Sport:

"A team is attacking and they show the replay of a previous action, a Juventus player make a shot and you see the face of one of Lazio, there is an atmosphere of old republic public, you can even hear the voice of a local commentator in the background. Another era, another age: they end the first half to the 43rd."

In 2016 Supercoppa returns to Qatar, with another attempt to promote Italian football abroad:

"We have found a big partner who has shown to have the ability, passion and hospitality to organize in the best possible way one of the most important matches of Italian football" commented Beretta, president of the Serie A. The controversy were immediately on the game time (17.30 local time), on doubts related to the conditions of the field and on television shooting, leaving out aspects much more important linked to the condition of the workers involved in the preparation of the World Cup in 2022. An inconvenience threatened to postpone the game: the charter flight that had to bring Milan to Doha postponed the departure of the Rossoneri, but this fact did not create problems for the team coached by Montella that triumphed after the penalty shootout.

While the economic prizes , the only real reason for playing abroad, of 2015 edition are still expected, in 2017 Supercoppa returns to Italy. The protagonist is again Juventus that faces Lazio: Biancocelesti not win a match with Bianconeri from ten consecutive games and Allegri's team must overcome, even only morally, the Champions League final lost in Cardiff. But Lazio dominated the match but in the final minutes Juventus equalized the match with a double by Dybala, after two mistakes by Lukaku and Murgia. The latter, however, remedies his error and corrected a result that would have been unfair: a goal at the last second brought the trophy to Lazio while Juventus marked the negative record of losing two finals in a row.


2018th edition

The 2018 edition will be played by Juventus and Milan, who return to play it in the year following his election. Beyond the result, we can already state that it will be one of the most debated editions of history. It is not wrong by itself to go and play a national competition abroad, as had already happened for this trophy and as already happens in other sports: for example NBA plays abroad since 1978 preseason games. To all those who complain that bringing an event abroad prevents him from going to see it easily at the stadium, we can remember that Serie A plays 380 seasonal games: there are still many places available in Italian stadiums because in the last season just over 60% of high chairs were occupied.

We must remember the potential new fans that clubs can bring to the stadium: companies acquire new business opportunities and Lega Calcio, exporting Italian football abroad, showcases a product that can be sold through television rights. On this occasion the polemics have increased exponentially after the League press release on the purchase of tickets:

"The sectors indicated as" singles "are reserved for men, the sectors indicated as" families "are mixed for men and women."

The text, published last 2nd of January, highlights a fact that is not scandalous by itself because it follows a law in force in the Arabic state. This can be seen from an optimistic point of view, as the president of the Lega Gaetano Miccichè says:

"Our Supercoppa will be remembered by history as the first official international football competition in which Saudi women will be able to watch live."

But the truth is that in the kingdom women are subject to a very rigid social system: they are under the control of a male who authorizes them for different activities during all their life. Saudi Arabia is also a country that over the years has increasingly repressed opponents of the kindgom, killing journalists as the murder of Jamal Khashoggi that has shocked the entire world.

But Arabia is only the last country after Libya, China and Qatar: countries in which the freedom of citizens and women is very distant from what it should be. But at Lega Calcio, the same one that paints the faces of footballers with red color against violence against women, these things are never interested and do not seem to interest even today. Despite the image return is negative, the only reason that pushes to play the competition in these countries are the rich economic prizes that are available: over 20 million euros paid by the Saudi state dominate every other aspect and type of take, bringing several controversies on the dispute of Supercoppa that remains a little super trophy.