Did India’s FIFA U-17 World Cup team really beat Italy? Here’s the truth
On Friday, the Indian U-17 team notched a 2-0 win over an Italy U-17 side in a practice match in Arezzo, Italy, played as part of the team’s exposure trip ahead of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, to be hosted by India in October.
The win sent Indian football fans into frenzy. As news of the win poured in, many celebrities took to Twitter to congratulate the winning side.
Beating Italy is no mean feat, and it was no surprise the result left Indian fans in a celebratory mood, as was witnessed on social networking sites like Twitter, rapidly building hopes they can produce a fine showing when the World Cup comes around.
However, lost in the delirium were a few minute but important details about the match. The team India beat on Friday was not the Italy U-17 national team. It was an U-17 team, and an Italian one at that, but the All India Football Federation (AIFF) put out misleading information about the friendly and the opponents.
The team India faced on Friday was Italy Lega Pro U-17 Representative, a side comprising youth players from clubs in Lega Pro and Lega Pro 2, the third and fourth tiers of Italian football, respectively.
The official websites of Lega Pro and Lega Pro clubs Parma and Albinoleffe, all of whom carried stories on the match, revealed that the team playing India was indeed a representative side of the league.
That, however, didn’t stop the AIFF from continuing its narrative that India had beaten the U-17 national team of Italy.
The Indian football governing body’s website termed the win as ‘a historic moment for Indian football’ and ‘a brand new chapter in the Indian football history’.
There was no mention of the match, before or after, on the official website of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).
Here is the Italian squad for the match against India, with the names of the clubs the players represent:
Federico Brancolini – Modena, Edoardo Corvi – Parma, Francesco Micheli – Albinoleffe, Simone Della Morte – Lucchese, Davide Missaglia – Cremonese, Marco Ruggero – Padova, Antonio Vitale – Modena, Nicolo Maffini – Carrarese, Alessio Gianneschi - Robur Siena, Antonio Marrone - Juve Stabia, Matteo Bertollo - Bassano Virtus, Michael Fibiano - Juve Stabia, Alberto Maroni – Mantova, Alessandro Ramello – Alessandria, Alessandro Galeandro – Albinoleffe, Davide Rosso – Padova, Davide Rodolfi – Albinoleffe, Alessandro Davitti – Modena.
The team was coached by Daniele Arrigoni. The head coach of the Italy U-17 team is Emiliano Bigica.
Below is the Italian squad from the UEFA U-17 Euros, which ended on May 19.
Simone Ghidotti – Fiorentina, Marco Carnesecchi – Cesena, Raoul Bellanova – AC Milan, Antonio Candela – Spezia, Matteo Anzolin – Vicenza, Davide Bettella - Inter Milan, Alex Campeol - AC Milan, Gabriele Bellodi – AC Milan, Andrea Rizzo Pinna – Atalanta, Elia Visconti – Inter Milan, Fabrizio Caligara – Juventus, Roberto Biancu – Cagliari, Hans Nicolussi Caviglia – Juventus, Emanuel Vignato – Chievo, Manolo Portanova – Lazio, Moise Kean – Juventus, Davide Merola – Inter Milan, Pietro Pellegri – Genoa.
Italian football journalist Emanuele Giulianelli was surprised when he saw reports of India beating the Italy U-17 team. “It is very strange because there is nothing about this match in the Italian media,” he told HT. “This team that played India U-17 is the Lega Pro national representative, and not the Italy U-17 national team,” he added.
AIFF officials weren’t available for a comment.
India will face the Lega Pro Representative side again on May 23, as per the official website of third-tier club Albinoleffe. It remains to be seen if football fans in the country will witness another ‘new chapter in the Indian football history’.