Saturday, 18 January 2014

Match 6: Sassuolo

How can a company that doesn’t check if you pay for its service survive? Who or what is a ‘Sassuolo’, precisely? And when will Trenitalia force me to snap, à la Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down’? These were just some of the questions running through my mind on the train to Reggio Emilia, where Sassuolo play, but not where they’re from. It seemed vaguely apt that I was on the way to see a team that’s spent the last few years nomading their way round leagues and stadia. I wouldn’t claim to be an intrepid explorer or particularly unique, but I live in a country that isn’t my own, and over the course of the last five years have lived in six different apartments, almost always with a feeling of being lost. Only now do I feel like I’m getting to grips with life, but there’s always the nagging doubt that I’m kidding myself and everyone around me. That’s partly the reason I undertook this whole book: to give myself a reason to stay in Italy. 
But first, to one of those original questions. Sassuolo are a team from Emilia Romagna, and to be more precise, Sassuolo, if such a thing could be believed! In the week before this game I told some students my plans for the weekend, namely watching Sassuolo play Atalanta, to which I was generally greeted with two responses: 
1) bemused faces and “Sassuolo have a team / are in Serie A?”

2) “It’s a good place to buy tiles - there are a lot of tile warehouses there”.

Always good to know, that. I guess it’s nice to be famous for something and those lucky folk of Sassuolo now have their town’s name on the map for two reasons: tiles and fitba’. Of course it was already on the map if you looked closely enough, but, well, you understand what I mean.

Some fun facts about US Sassuolo Calcio: it’s not a lesser-known spaceship from Star Trek, but it is one of only a select few teams in Italy to have played in Serie A that don’t come from their provincial capital. What’s a provincial capital, you ask? Well, basically it’s a bonus level of officialdom to ensure more people have safe jobs for life without really having anything to do except bog things down in a miasma of bureaucracy. In case you’re wondering, some of the other teams on this august list are: Casale, Cesena, Empoli, Lecco, Legnano, Pro Patria and Savoia. No, me neither for most of them.


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