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The Latina Experiment

In the unnaturally early hours of last Monday morning New Zealand time, a most wondrous, magical and just thing occurred. Roma beat Inter 4-0. I should have been over the moon. But I wasn’t. Instead I was mourning the loss of more hair than I had to lose, torn out in frustration that I couldn’t find a bloody internet stream that worked until first half injury time. I had missed two of the eventual four goals and then, if you please, the stream I had finally got working, punctually decided to freeze right before Borini added the third. This put me in a mood that not even a comprehensive defeat of my least favourite sports team in the known universe could turn around.

It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. I hate internet streams. Not just because they are patchy, grainy, fuzzy, buzzy, stop-start and hard to track down, but mostly because they are illegal. What choice do I have? I would pay good money to watch Roma but there is no way to do this. The Television rights to Serie A for Australia and New Zealand are owned by Setanta, a channel that does not broadcast in New Zealand and even if it did, get this, – it doesn’t even show Serie A in Australia. Yes, you read correctly, they have the rights, but they don’t show it. I mean, WTF?!?! Capitalism = Choice. Yeah, right.

Or does it? Serie A is not the only game in town, not even when it comes to Italian club football and luckily for me, I have a second team. A couple of years ago, I wrote about US Latina, a club I went to watch live in 2007. They were in Eccellenza then, the 6th tier of Italian football. Since then, they have risen to the heady heights of the third tier (Lega Pro 1) the equivalent of League 1 in the UK.

This weekend, they are playing away at Triestina, a wonderful club that was in Serie A between 1929 and 1959 and hails from the beautiful city of Trieste, where it is said that if you play the violin, the tip of your bow will be in Slovenia. It lies on a tiny sliver of Italian territory between the Adriatic Sea and the border with the former Yugoslav republic.

Sadly, I’ve been a very slack Latina fan lately. I have been keeping a very close eye on their results and league position but have not been able to watch any games. They are always at 2:30am on a Monday morning here. I struggle to get up for Roma games at that time, let alone anything else, however this weekend I am determined. Latina currently sit 13th, one place above the relegation playoff zone thanks to goal difference only. It must be difficult seeing Trapani, the club they fought hard with all last season before ultimately beating into second place on the road to the Lega Pro 2 title, now three points clear at the top of Lega Pro 1.

We have a couple of players worth keeping an eye on. Brazillian target man Jefferson is on loan from Fiorentina having previously played for Latina’s fiercest rivals, nearby Frosinone. He has 6 goals from 14 appearances so far this season. Marco Fossati is a very promising midfielder who has played 23 times for Italy at age group level. Apart from those two, the rest of the squad is a mixture of seasoned journeymen and relatively unknown young players. [Translation: I have utterly no idea who on earth they are.]

A YouTube search nets a bit of an overview of how they have been playing. This highlights vid of the first half of their season reveals some truly sublime goals.

Highlights, though, by definition are always going to be… well, high. A closer viewing of some of their games such as their last outing, a draw with mid-table Barletta, in all likelihood reveals a more accurate impression. Their goal looked flukey and their opponents looked far more likely to grab all three points than they did. Still, you can’t really really tell until you watch a whole game so I’m looking forward to completing the picture. Triestina are currently 11th and have been on a bit of a downward slope. Bieng declared bankrupt, as they were in January, will tend to have that effect on a club…

An experiment then. The Hypothesis: That the level of incompetance in the higher echelons of the Lega Calcio is so horrifically bad that it is easier to watch the third tier of Italian football than it is the first. The method: This week, I’ve decided bugger it, Roma are away at Siena. Usually the smaller the city in which a game is being played, the more unreliable the stream is so I’m going try my luck viewing Latina instead.

It promises to be a fascinating watch! I’ll let you know how it goes…

Categories: Media Roma/Italian Calcio

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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