insiteronline

The woes of Serie A

Posted on 2

Ten years ago, if you asked any football fan which football league was the best, most of them would have instantly answered ‘Serie A’ (although the English Premiership would have come a close second). Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Since then, the Italian football elite has taken one hell of a beating, which can be attributed to several factors all occurring at once – the wake of the Calciopoli scandal (the shadow of which Serie A has still not fully recovered from), the economic downfall still being experienced in Italy, the reduction in the number of Champions League places from four to three, poor spectator attendance and overall poor club management. The Serie A is still nevertheless considered to be one of the top four football leagues in the world, with more players winning the Ballon d’Or while playing for a Serie A side than any other league.

Where the English Premier League is renowned for its fast, furious and physical style, the La Liga for its emphasis on technical skill and the Bundesliga on its excellent infrastructure and spectator attendance, the Serie A has been traditionally known as the most tactical and defensive league (non-fans commonly use the phrase “slow-motion league”). This has often been used as an excuse to explain why several players favour a move to other leagues over the Serie A, but this is arguably no longer applicable since differences in playing style between the leagues are far less readily apparent, with the emergence of attacking Italian teams such as this season’s new-look Roma, Fiorentina and Napoli.

In addition, football fans are increasingly criticising the La Liga and Bundesliga for their poor competition; with the latter being currently a Bayern Munich monopoly (even last year’s rivals Borussia Dortmund are looking poor this season), and the former has been dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona for several years now, and it is only a resurgent Atletico Madrid under Diego Simeone that has looked capable of dethroning the duo and removing them from their pedestals. Serie A has no such problems – sure, defending champions Juventus are currently laughing their way to a third consecutive Scudetto, with only Roma looking capable of challenging, but the rest of the table is an absolute death pit, with just ten points separating fifth-placed newly-promoted Hellas Verona and thirteenth-placed Sampdoria.

So why does Serie A continue to struggle? A major reason is the fact that none of the Italian elite teams bar Juventus own their own stadiums. One of the main factors why Juventus have re-emerged as the dominant force in Italian football is their new home, the Juventus Stadium, which is owned by the club, allowing the bianconeri to directly collect revenue from spectator attendance and giving them total control over the stadium facilities. The rest of the clubs do not own their home grounds, but merely rent them from the respective cities. An example is the Giuseppe Meazza stadium in San Siro, which is owned by the Milan council, and to add insult to injury, the two Milan-based clubs, AC and Inter, have to share it. Italy is one of the few majaor footballing European countries to still allow this – in other countries such as England, this is not only intolerable but unthinkable. However, improvements are being made, with Roma and Inter planning to build their own stadiums within the next few years.

Foreign leagues such as the English Premier League have also been boosted by the cash influx generated by new foreign investors arriving, such as Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich and Manchester City’s Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, while the majority of Italian clubs are still owned by locals. However, with foreign investors recently arriving (such as Inter’s new Indonesian owner Erick Thohir), things are looking up.

In hindsight, while Serie A is looking bleak right now, one can’t help but feel that the night is darkest just before the dawn – progress is constantly being made and the Italian government has in fact recently agreed to step up a campaign to quickly improve the outdated football stadia. Time will tell if Serie A will regain its former glory, or will forever remain in the shadows of its rival leagues.

 

Posted in Opinion, Sport

In the long run: Meeting Luke Bezzina

Posted on 0

Luke Bezzina exudes energy wherever and whenever and so it is ,when we are chatting away, just days before we start University. Before we know it we’re speaking of his past collections, his future girlfriend but most of all his past, present and future ‘’passion’’ –athletics.

By Francesca Zarb and Rachel Powell

Q: What were you like as a child?

L: I was very energetic. At the age of 5 my parents decided to sign me up for most sports. I did swimming and gymnastics and obviously athletics. Until fourteen years of age I still juggled with all three. I also studied drama and piano. Then I decided to pursue athletics simply because I liked it best. It gave me most satisfaction. My coach is currently Zeljko Aras.

Q: You make an effort to be in the best physical and mental condition possible for the purpose of athletics, do you feel pressured sometimes?

L: I do. I sacrifice a lot to be fit. My food, sleep, shoes, social life are all under control. It’s very demanding yet it is also rewarding especially when I win during competitions.

Q: While you’re running do any thoughts occur to you?

L: When I am at the starting blocks, my aim is to cut the finishing line first. The world just shuts down and all I think about is me. I am very focused. Not even if my opponent sprints ahead of me, I don’t look at him I only look towards the finish. I feel free.

Q: Speaking of finish and relating to one of your popular photos, do you usually stick your tongue out at the end of the competition?

L: I know which photo you’re referring to. That was in Malta when I had crossed the line first with the fastest time of the season. I had also done a personal best of 22.24 in the 200 metres. I sometimes do it at the end of the finish line. It is such an indescribable feeling.

Q: You were one of the few juniors i.e. under nineteens’ to ever break the 11 second barrier in the 100m sprint. What can you tell us about that?

L: The word is overwhelming. I am always the type who studies my mistakes and see what I missed out on. I work my hardest to better my performance at every competition. The fastest record ever was that of 10.8 seconds and mine was 10.93 .. getting close.

Q: This year you’ve done the GSSE Games , the European Team Championships and the European Junior Championships. What are you hoping or wishing for in your next season?

L: I am already thinking of the University Games in South Korea in two years time. I am very willing to go for such a competition. It is well known, in fact many Olympics representatives will be there and it is famous for being a fair and clean competition.

Q: Is it true you sat for your last intermediate on your way to the Small Nation Games?

L: Yes. It was I.T intermediate. I still passed and will be reading B.Com next year.

Q: Where you always interested in the commerce or economics sector?

L: At a young age , I wanted to take up different occupations. I wanted to become a bus driver because I liked the large doors and I also wanted to become a priest to take the big host not the small one.

Q: Do you collect anything except for your medals?

L: I used to collect old coins although I’ve stopped now. I have the old Maltese money collected. I also collect watches, shoes ,blazers and electronics. I change my mobile phone once every six months.

Q: Any celebrities you’d like to be stranded with on an island?

L: I’d go for Mila Kunis or Jennifer Aniston who is one of my favourite actresses. I wouldn’t mind Megan Fox either.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Features, Sport

Student-athletes depart for FISU games

Posted on 0

Earlier this month, MUSC and KSU announced that for the first time since the 1990s, a contingent of elite University of Malta student athletes will be participating in the University of Malta’s name at the FISU games in Kazan.  

With a participation of almost 13,000 athletes from Universities all over the world, these games are a University based version of the Olympics.  It is an extremely prestigious competition which is considered to be a stepping stone for future Olympic participants and medalists.  In fact it will be broadcast live on EuroSport.

MUSC will field a delegation of 7 athletes:

  • Track and field – Andy Grech, Matthew Croker and Rebecca Sare’.  All GSSE medalists.
  • Swimmers – Andrea Agius, Edward Caruana Dingli and Daniel Galea, who all hold national records and are some of the most promising swimming talents Malta has to offer.
  • Weightlifting – Rodmar Pulis, who recently won a silver medal at the European Small Nations Tournament.

Elena Bajada, MUSC President, and MUSC Secretary General Madeleine Fenech will be accompanying the contingent as officials, and Jesmond Joseph Caruana will be present as Weightlifting coach.

When approached by Insite, Bajada explained that the athletes were handpicked using a system based on national standards and foreign ones, where a number of University Athletes were shortlisted. This led to an original list of around 20 athletes which after close consideration and with particular attention to what was going on at national championship level and at the GSSE games, was reduced to the current and final selection of disciplines and athletes.

“Although a contingent of 7 athletes is certainly not a large contingent, one must appreciate the restraints that MUSC, a small student run organisation faces, especially when comparing it with its foreign counterparts which are all funded by their governments. Considering that the games share the prestige of Olympic Games, MUSC’s efforts are certainly worth noting. With this in mind, our ambitions are realistic and we realize that winning medals will be difficult when faced with such a high level of competition, but we are confident that our athletes will achieve commendable results nonetheless.”

The opening ceremony will be held on the 6th July.

Insite will be following the progress of all athletes very closely.  Stay tuned for more updates in the coming days.

Posted in News, Sport