A love letter to Italy‘s famous football panel show and the derby it covers
Very early in the life of this blog, I wrote an article declaring my love for the Sky Sports program Gillette Soccer Saturday, a program that allows people to be informed about the football scores while being entertained by the zany fun and unpredictability expressed by the panelists. Today’s blog offers us a continental sequel.
Based in Milan, 7 Gold is one of the main national TV networks in Italy, broadcasting a variety of different programs covering sport, politics, news, and weather, as well as broadcasting TV series and films. One of their most popular programs is Diretta Stadio, a sport talk and debate program that covers Italian football, primarily the Serie A and the national team. Their studio cast consists of several journalists and former players, and they cover and discuss the major events and happenings in the world of Italian football. They also cover major live matches as they happen, with reactions from journalists who support the teams playing in the match they are covering. While they have a rotating cast that includes Juventus, Napoli, Roma, Lazio, and Fiorentina fans, the most popular and beloved pair, and the ones that offer us the lens through which we will examine this show, support the two local teams. Milan fan Tiziano Crudeli and Inter fan Filippo Tramontana are the power pairing, and their reactions, especially when they are together, are the ones that often circulate on social media and highlight the show at its emotional, entertaining, passionate best.
Tiziano Crudeli is a gentle old man, almost adorable in a way, and his long-standing unabashed support of his beloved Milan has turned him into a cult celebrity in Italian football. He is also an accomplished journalist and former broadcaster who has covered Italian sport, including his beloved Rossoneri, for decades, but it was his demeanor and emotion that elevated him to this level. His cult status has even gone abroad, with Crudeli starring in a series of Ladbrokes advertisements with famous British pundit Chris Kamara. His joyous goal celebrations, especially the way he celebrates certain players, regularly go viral, with his famous “Susino mio” call celebrating ex-Milan midfielder Suso’s goals being a personal favorite. You could go on YouTube and find montages of his best reactions and celebrations, and I encourage you to go search for those. Sadly, not everything has been so rosy and happy for Milan in the last several years, and Crudeli has suffered through the lowest points of the Rossonero rut. His anger and frustration did boil over this season during Milan’s 5-0 loss to Atalanta, with Crudeli becoming emotional and frustrated following the fifth Atalanta goal. He has also been on the receiving end of some heartbreaking defeats, including one we will discuss later, and he is an embodiment of how far Milan has fallen over the decade. The highs are much rarer for Tiziano than they were less than a decade ago. You almost want to reach through the screen and give him a hug at times.
Filippo Tramontana offers an interesting contrast. Tramontana is younger, louder, and more flamboyant than his counterpart, able to express emotion through voice and movement much more than the older Crudeli. He does not have the accomplished career of his colleague, but he is still a notable name in this area, being a fixture at 7 Gold since the mid-2000s. The love he feels for his beloved Inter, though, mirrors that of his colleague’s love for Milan. Tramontana’s bombastic celebrations of Inter goals elevated him to a viral status not quite at the level of Crudeli, but still enabling him to be the second-most prominent member of the Diretta Stadio cast. While his viral celebration clips do not have the quirks of Crudeli, there will be no Inter versions of “Susino mio” or “Boa Boa Boa Teng Teng Teng”, they are louder and more active. His most famous moment on the program was him doing his Diretta Stadio role in front of a live audience of thousands of Inter fans during their Champions League final win over Bayern Munich in 2010, jumping on and hugging and high-fiving fans after both of Diego Milito’s goals, demonstrating the cult status he at least holds among his fellow Interisti.
The ideal lens to examine this show at its best is through the Milan Derby, particularly the most recent one. I do not hide my love for the Milan Derby. It is the best derby in European football, and the last iteration of the derby was the best game of the 2019-2020 season (and you can find my article about that match here). Diretta Stadio, and namely Crudeli and Tramontana, were at their best that day. Milan took a 2-0 lead in the first half. Crudeli was walking across the studio with his arms raised, repeatedly yelling “Ibra! Ibra! Ibra!” following the Swede’s goal, with the camera cutting to a dejected Tramontana to contrast the scene. The studio then cut to the Serie A table to provide context, showing that, as things stood, Inter were in third. Eight minutes into the second half, as we all know, the match flipped onto its head, and Tramontana was aggressively punching the air and yelling the name of Mathias Vecino, who had just equalized for Inter. De Vrij fired Inter into the lead on 70 minutes, with the scenes in the 7 Gold studio reflecting the first half, but for the Nerazzurri. Tramontana loudly repeated the name of the Inter goalscorer, while Crudeli was the one dejected in his seat. The next 20 minutes was very even, with both commentators living and dying with every touch of the ball. Lukaku scored in stoppage time to seal the match, and the studio knew it was over. Tramontana celebrated, knowing his beloved Nerazzurri were top of the league, while Crudeli sat in his seat defeated, knowing Milan had blown a chance at a massive, season-defining win against their hated rivals.
While Soccer Saturday gains its fans through its zany and unpredictable nature, Diretta Stadio appeals to the football world through its relatability. While watching Crudeli and Tramontana is wildly entertaining, it is relatable to us because they, like us, are fans reacting as we would react. Their passion and joy is infectious, and we are able to look at them and see a reflection of us. We can turn on the TV and see these journalists experience the same emotions, highs and lows, joys and stresses that we experience as football fans on a weekly basis. It can act as either a reminder to football fans that we are not actually crazy, that there is someone out there that feels exactly as we feel, or that we are completely crazy and we have no reason not to embrace the craziness.