This post probably won't be of any interest except to the followers of worldaffairs and intl_relations, so feel free to skip it if you want.
Behind the cut is the transcription of a piece from the "Comment & Analysis" page of this weekend's Financial Times. It was written by Tony Barber, the FT's Rome bureau chief. I think we should invite him to join worldaffairs; the only difference between what he's doing and what we're doing is that he's getting paid for it ....
By Tony Barber
Published in the Financial Times May 20/May 21, 2006
Forty-one people, including two top officials at football club Juventus, are under investigation in Italy on suspicion of fixing matches. In an unrelated development, Italy got a new government last week, led by centre-left cyclist and jogger Romano Prodi. In the cafés and bars of Rome, the talk is of nothing else.
SILVIO: First the election, now the league championship! They say I'm a bad loser, but I'm the biggest victim of all.
GIANFRANCO (throwing a faded swastika in the bin): Stay calm. We'll be back in power in less than a year. Remember, you're still Italy's richest man!
SILVIO: That's all very well for you to say. You don't own a football club. When I think of poor Andriy Shevchenko and Jaap Stam busting their guts for AC Milan, it makes me want to ... want to ... walk out of a television interview!
GIANFRANCO: You did that before the election, and we lost.
SILVIO (a fixed look in his eye): No, we didn't. We won.
GIANFRANCO (wearily): Sorry, I completely forgot. It was a sensational victory for the centre-right in extra time.
SILVIO: Have you seen Prodi's new tracksuit? It makes him look 79 years old.
GIANFRANCO: Younger than our new head of state, then.
SILVIO: the people don't trust Prodi. All that nonsense about healing the wounds of the election! Italians want a leader who's a bit of a rascal.
GIANFRANCO: A cheeky, dodgy, loveable, slippery, extremely rich showman.
SILVIO: Someone who knows how to bend the rules.
GIANFRANCO: Rather like the people at Juventus.
SILVIO: Exactly. If it hadn't been for those prosecutors poking their noses in where they weren't wanted, no one would have suspected anything.
GIANFRANCO: We all make mistakes. If I hadn't called Mussolini the greatest statesman of the twentieth century, I'd be prime minister by now.
SILVIO: No you wouldn't, you old fascist.
GIANFRANCO: At least I'm not about to go on trial for supposedly bribing some snooty Brit lawyer to give false evidence on my behalf.
SILVIO: He's a creep, isn't he? One thing's for sure, I'm never taking him to the amphitheatre at my Sardinian villa.
GIANFRANCO: Where are you going to watch the World Cup this summer, anyway?
SILVIO: In the prime minister's office, of course.
GIANFRANCO: Silvio, I know it's hard, but you're not prime minister any more, remember?
SILVIO (wipes eyes): I know, I know. My only consolation is that the British voters did the same thing to Churchill in 1945.
GIANFRANCO: Well, not to worry. You've still got your collection of Napoleon figurines.
UMBERTO: Hey, have you heard the news? Everyone at Juventus has been let off. They're all innocent!
GIANFRANCO: That's Italian justice for you.
SILVIO (contentedly): Story of my life.