“Soccer fandom is much more than a love story or a religious faith. It is a condition of being. When you’ve been part of a team since childhood, you love it through deeply personal means, made up of specific customs and liturgies that follow a grammar that non-fans can’t begin to understand.”
Tommaso Labate takes his beloved team Inter’s recent victory of the 2021 Scudetto as his starting point to bring readers on a journey deep into Interism, in exploration of the grammar of fandom.
This is a journey through the sleepless nights of the tournament, set against a backdrop of memories, from happy events, such as the conquest of the 2008 Scudetto, to devastating disappointments, such as losing the title at the last moment on May 5, 2002. This fateful date inspires one of the cornerstones of Labate’s personal analysis of the Interist way of life. If it is true that there is a small percentage of pessimism in all of us, it is especially true in the soccer fan––and in the Inter fan above all. Fandom is an “eighth deadly sin” that follows you from birth, latent and silent but always present. Soccer and life intertwine in a seesaw of emotions, often blurring together until they become one. Labate grippingly describes this rollercoaster of joys and disappointments, where “different gradations of heaven” and real “circles of hell” alternate.
Among the various characters in these pages, one in particular hovers like a ghost to be exorcised: José Mourinho––a name, thanks to the conquest of the Triplete, that is destined to remain forever imprinted in the history of Inter. Only the former Juventus player, Antonio Conte, was able to “free” the Interisti from such a heavy legacy on an October evening in 2019. The Nerazzurri, despite playing spectacular soccer, lost to Barcelona in a Champions League group stage match. The unfair defeat that left an indelible mark in the hearts of fans, but it also marked the start of a new path. Because, after all, soccer is like life. Defeat, more than victory, is often the key to eternity.