In Qatar I saw few and many improvised coaches, but also from Sassuolo, a few Atalanta and a couple from Turin, teams of highly motivated people, fresh in mind and legs, technically inferior – but not too much – to the players of the most prestigious national teams. I am thinking of Japan, South Korea, Morocco and even the United States, Australia and Iran. Surprising values and results that we record every week in the championship I found them again in this World Cup, a low quality tournament for an obvious reason: even at an international level there are no champions and therefore the distances between the top selections and the rest of the world have significantly reduced.
It is no coincidence that we are here cling to Messi, the Elevato, 35 years old, eighteen of whom are at the highest level, and Ronaldo, almost 38, in the very first row for twenty years. And we have accompanied the sunset of Suarez and Cavani, Godin and Thomas Muller, and Pepe; suffered together with Lewandowski, 34, unarmed by Michniewicz’s follies; and every now and then we wonder how much Lukaku, De Bruyne and Hazard are really worth.
When I asked listeners on the radio who their group stage stars were, I got these answers: Szczesny, Croatia’s 20-year-old defender Gvardiol and Julian Alvarez. The top vote was however Cameroonian Vincent Aboubakar who on his passport is thirty years old (…) and plays in Arabia, in Al-Nassr which aims right at Ronaldo. Four years ago there was more quality on the pitch, but only because the names I mentioned were four years younger. There are not a few editions of European and World Cups in which we have noticed a constant worsening of the spectacularity of the game. The current system can still produce one or two star playersbut not the champions who support them by raising the general tone of the event: an Mbappé or a Haaland will always be born, but the twenty, thirty high-level players that were never lacking in the 80s, 90s and 2000s, today they have disappeared or are at the end of their run.
The current dynamics of football do not give “talented” young people the time and above all the necessary motivations to transform natural qualities into objective value. The lack of control by the institutions has also encouraged the spread of a phenomenon which has allowed a category of unscrupulous agents and agencies to repeatedly acquire the right to represent these young people for rich fees, thus altering the balance (family and personal) useful for maintaining commitment and humility essential if you want to grow and improve.
Today a 16, 17 year old boy can feel rich and accomplished without having played a single minute in Serie A. Today a Musiala and an Ansu Fati are considered super tops, however destined to grow less than the Musiala and Ansu Fati of thirty years ago. who could measure themselves against highly equipped comrades and opponents.
I like to point the example of Bruno Conti: at twenty he was just a good player, in ’82 – at 27 – he found Mbappé. Which will also be worth a billion, but he still plays like the most famous ancestors: having fun and having fun. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that it’s a sign of the times, that today’s men – and players – cannot be those of yesterday. So the young. The ignorant – in the sense that they are ignorant – have never heard of the Burnt Youth of the 1960s, of moral and social anxieties that were once ennobled by the word “revolution”. Football is always an extraordinary measure of humanity unfortunately corrupted by money that sends not only solicitors, but mothers and fathers and brothers and uncles into the hunt for millions. It is useful – paradoxically – the threat of economic collapse of the clubs, even the richest and most famous. It is the pressing invitation to recover the time of reason.