The World Cup seen from Italy – Press, TV, radio: How the media prepared for the void

It was June 24, 2014. And the person who wrote these few lines to you was then « only » 23 years old. When the referee whistles the end of this sad Italy-Uruguay (0-1) synonymous with elimination from the World Cup in Brazil, he does not really suspect that he has just attended the last match of the Nazionale at a World Cup before a long time. 2018? Not for us, too cold in Russia. 2022? Still not, too hot in Qatar. Sweden and North Macedonia kindly came through to make us stay at home. Thus, it will be necessary to wait at least 2026. And the person concerned will then be… 35 years old. Ouch. Hard blow and blow of old.

So, just to pass the time during these four weeks of competition, he decided to make you experience the World Cup seen from Italy. Like a haggard passer-by passing in front of the village festival while realizing that he has not been invited. For the second time in a row, too. This is a bit of the feeling that reigns here, in La Botte, at a time when the 22ᵉ edition of the Football World Cup is about to start without its European champion.

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For this first episode, you will be able to go behind the scenes of several transalpine media, some journalists having agreed to tell us about their personal and professional plans, with editorial staff forced to thwart the editorial line initially planned to cover the competition. « I wouldn’t be of much use to you, I should have gone to Qatar to follow the Nazionale. In view of the events, I decided to take my vacation since the elimination“, jokes one of our colleagues from the outset. But this will not be the case for everyone.

Fortunately, there is Serie B…

On the side of The Gazzetta dello Sport, the best-known and best-selling sports daily in Italy, it was decided to send no less than eleven journalists on site. « Me, I prepared a long format of ten World Cup stories with a colleaguetestifies to us Francesco Pietrella, journalist of the daily pink. There will be fairly consistent daily coverage. Then there is also Serie B which does not stop, fortunately… Finally, on the Serie A side, everything will depend on the transfer window, on the players present in Qatar. There will be things to say and to tell. La Gazzetta will follow the event closely, on the website and in the newspaper. We will still talk about the World Cup, which is more unusual in winter. You can’t miss it, even without our selection. »
At a time when the Italian press is suffering, with sales plummeting, the absence of the Nazionale is a « huge blow » according to one of the daily’s editors. Not to mention the shortfall in all other sectors, from catering to merchandising. To give an idea of ​​the shortfall, the « Calcio e Finanza » site recalled last July that Italian professional football has a « indirect impact on GDP (Gross International Product) of 10.2 billion euros » and count more than « 112,000 active workers« . In 2021, 55% of the population aged over 18 said they were « interested » in football, compared to 48% on average in Europe, for a total of 27.4 million people. Italy remains beautiful and indeed the country of Calcio. So, inevitably, missing two World Cups in a row, it’s a task.

« Of course the media will follow what is happening in Qatartestifies the journalist Matteo Moretto, recently moved from Sky Italia to the Spanish media Relevo, but still based in Milan. They will mainly focus on players who play in Serie A. And it will also talk a lot about the transfer window in the coming weeks.. » It must be said that the « Calciomercato » remains a national sport in Italy. Generally, it is practiced in the summer and under the « ombrellone » (the parasol) while reading the newspapers. This time, it will be at the corner of the fire or under a blanket. If we go back to the thread of this pre-World Cup week, we had to wait until Sunday to see The Gazzetta dello Sport dedicate its front page to the event. Ah, denial…

« Without Italy, dedicating a program to the World Cup would make no sense »

In the country four times world champion, we would have liked the season to continue normally, without interruption due to the World Cup. « You should know that the selection will never be talked about as much as the clubs, Juve, Milan, Inter, Roma, Lazio, Napoli etc. Even more so now that the season has kicked offregrets Augusto Ciardi, journalist on the Roman radio Teleradiostereo for twenty years. A broadcast entirely dedicated to the Nazionale during a World Cup would already not make much sense, so without it, it would simply have none. There would be a total drop in audiences, and that also applies to daily newspapers. They will talk about the World Cup, yes, but marginally. »

So, how to organize? « We will try to broaden our horizons, create new sections and talk about football but in a less divisive way, because here we talk a lot and mainly about Roma or Lazio with our colleagues.answers Augusto Ciardi. We will try to do different things. Talking every day for two months only about Lazio and Roma would involve repetitions and more or less similar arguments. In summer, there is the transfer window. But here we are still in November and therefore far from the winter transfer window. We are about to face a month and a half of beating. Addressing extra-sporting issues is not excluded, we will have to be creative to furnish while following what is happening in Qatar. Our main themes remain football and Roma. But we will have to enrich it with new dishes. For example, why not do two hours on cinema related to sports and football. But we will not spend our time commenting on matches where Italy will not even be. »

On the TV side, the 64 World Cup matches will be broadcast unencrypted and exclusively by Rai, which was counting on the presence of Roberto Mancini’s selection to boost its audiences. Missed. « They will necessarily be less gooddeplores a journalist from the editorial staff. Just imagine that the match against North Macedonia peaked at ten million people… There, we will be far from it, especially for the group matches. But we will keep more or less the same model, with a panel of consultants and journalists to analyze the matches that we consider the most important, until the final.. »

Very popular in Italy, with more than a million listeners a day, the radio « Radio Sportiva », which only talks about sports from 7 a.m. in the morning to 8-9 p.m. in the evening, or even midnight on championship or Champions League evenings, has also adapted to the absence of the Nazionale. « Our programs will remain more or less the same as in high seasonexplains the editorial staff. There will only be the live of the most important matches of the World Cup. On the timing side, we will stop at 11 p.m. on the evenings when there will be matches at 8 p.m. With Italy, there would have been special broadcasts, but we will still do them for important matches. During programs dedicated to deeper analysis, we will have to find guests able to talk about other subjects. Obviously, if the Nazionale had been there, we would have only talked about that. But if we purely and simply evoke the program schedule, its absence changes almost nothing. » In the end, we would almost start to get used to it…

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