Italians love soccer. Despite the fact that the country does occasionally win the World Cup, however, the Italian brand of soccer is more venal than Ben Kingsley in "Sexy Beast."
The teams intimidate, they're negative, they will stoop to violence, and they're infinitely less interesting to watch than Joaquin Phoenix on the "Late Show with David Letterman."
I mention this because I understand that the Italian love of soccer, even virtual soccer, has led to a domestic dispute of stunningly negative proportions.
According to Reuters, a 16-year-old boy identified as Mario R was merrily engrossed in a game of FIFA 2009 on his PlayStation when his dad decided to offer a little advice.
The story doesn't recount whether Dad suggested the son play another two men across the back (a very Italian suggestion) or whether he merely figured that Mario's team needed to get a one goal lead and then cease to play soccer altogether--another very Italian characteristic.
Mario was not impressed with Dad's tactics. Perhaps he expressed himself forcefully. For Dad's reaction was to turn off the TV.
Mario seems to have felt this was provocation beyond the limits of filial loyalty. This was provocation not unlike Italian defender Marco Materazzi offering allegedly disgraceful slurs that caused France's Zinedine Zidane to lose his head--into Materazzi's chest--during the 2006 World Cup Final.
Mario reportedly wandered into the kitchen, grabbed a 15-inch knife, and stabbed his dad in the neck. He then supposedly wandered back into the kitchen, washed the knife, as his mom looked on, still unknowing, and put it down to dry. This was as clinical as the famous Italian defender, Claudio Gentile, who could chop your legs away and smile benignly as if he'd merely just fed you some cake.
Mom thought nothing of it, until her husband walked into the kitchen clutching his neck.
The son didn't go back to his PlayStation. He merely locked himself in his room and waited for the police to arrive.
His mom was quoted by Reuters as saying: "Mario is obsessed. He's forever playing on his PlayStation, and we bought him FIFA 2009 because we didn't want him playing violent games."
She sounds like a very wise woman. However, when it comes to soccer in Italy, wisdom can often be in very short supply.