in Verona, the new mayor is a soccer star
Damiano Tommasi won the municipal elections in the city of Verona on Sunday June 26. Despite a high abstention rate, he won 53.4% of the votes cast against 46.6% for his opponent and outgoing elected official, Federico Sboarina, a member of the neo-fascist party Fratelli d’Italia. This is the first time in fifteen years that a center-left coalition has risen to the head of the city. « I’m happy because, beyond the result, we managed to talk about politics without necessarily attacking the opponent, without denigrating, without insulting, » commented the new mayor.
Known to the general public, Damiano Tommasi has no real political experience. He began as a football player in the 1990s at Hellas Verona, great rival of Chievo Verona, the other club in the city. After five years spent in his native province, he signed in 1996 with AS Roma. Despite a difficult start, he managed to forge a reputation as a formidable midfielder. He was called up for the first time in 1998 by the Nazionale, the national team, before being crowned Italian champion during the 2000-2001 season under the orders of Fabio Capello and alongside the legendary trio Totti-Batistuta- Montella.
Between 1998 and 2003, he wore the jersey twenty-five times and started at the 2002 World Cup. At the end of his career, he tried his luck in Spain (Levante UD) and England (QPR), and became the first Italian to play in China (Tianjin Teda). He finally returned to Italy in 2009, joined a small local team (Sant’Anna d’Alfaedo) then joined SP La Fiorita where he once again tasted European competitions.
Even as a player, Damiano Tommasi was interested in politics, not hesitating to speak out on current issues. Nicknamed « the candid soul » for refusing his high salary while injured, he repeatedly pledges to help others. In 2001, he acquired a vast estate in his region, which he then sold to a foundation to open a bilingual school. He then left in 2011 to build a football stadium in Kosovo. The same year, he became president of the AIC, the Italian footballers’ union. A position he holds until 2020, after his failure to be elected as president of the Italian Football Federation.
Having become a politician, Damiano Tommasi is considered “neither right nor left”, an eternal midfielder. As mayor of Verona, he calls for overcoming the ideological quarrels that have slowed down the growth of the city for the past fifteen years. He now intends to focus his action on the environment and young people, tempted by the departure to the international.
Across the country, the center left emerged strengthened from this second round of partial local elections. Besides Verona, where the right paid the price for its internal divisions, it also managed to take the cities of Parma, Piacenza, Catanzaro and Alessandria, while the right won the cities of Lucca, Frosinone, Sesto San Giovanni and Barletta . « We are sorry for the cities lost in these ballots despite the commitment of candidates and activists, often because of divisions and disputes within the right, as in Verona, and which should not happen again »commented Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League (sovereign right) and big loser of this election.