The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - October 11

Italians shouldn't show too much aggression in friendly soccer matches - and certainly shouldn't tackle as if they were saving Italy's bacon in an international, Italy's high court said Tuesday. Ruling against a Sicilian man who broke a friend's knees in a bout of beach soccer, the Cassation Court urged the nation's legions of amateur footballers to show "greater control of physical passion" during friendly encounters.

In the thousands of five-a-side (mini-soccer) matches that take place around the country each week, "players would be well advised not to go in (to the tackle) as if their lives depended on it," the Court said. "A kickaround isn't the World Cup Final".

The Court made the precedent-setting ruling in rejecting an appeal from 23-year-old Giovanni G. who snapped his friend Giuseppe V.'s four lateral knee ligaments in what judges described as "an extremely violent sliding tackle" on a Palermo beach in 2003. Because of the "deliberate" aggression shown, Giuseppe was entitled to claim damages, the court said, awarding the still-recovering 21-year-old costs to cover most of the expense of two knee operations.

The issue of 'criminal' tackles in professional soccer is still unresolved but some countries such as England have seen damage suits filed.