Sun, Jul 02, 2006 - Page 23 News List

World Cup: Italy's `mamma's boys' give as good as they get

AP AND AFP , HAMBURG

Italy already has some inspiration to beat Germany in the World Cup semi-finals.

An article posted on the Web site of German weekly Der Spiegel earlier this week defined Italians as "parasites, mamma's boys and slimy," causing outrage in Italy's World Cup camp.

Der Spiegel pulled the story as soon it got wind of the controversy it created. The magazine also issued an apology, but the damage was done and it's sure to be discussed again ahead of Tuesday's semi-final.

"As an Italian and captain of the national team I feel offended," defender Fabio Cannavaro said. "These stereotypes applied to us come from an old culture that has been overly abused. It shocks me that this can happen in a civilized country like Germany."

Italy set up its World Cup camp in industrial Duisburg, an area filled with Italian immigrants, with the idea that the team would be inspired by the success stories of its countrymen abroad.

Antonio Pelle, the owner of the hotel where the Azzurri are staying, worked his way up from a dishwasher in his native Calabria.

Some 600,000 Italians live in Germany, the second-largest immigrant population after Turks.

`JEALOUSY'

"From fashion to restaurants, we're a population of workers," defender Alessandro Nesta said. "People criticize us, but then they want to dress and eat like us. There's a bit of jealousy."

"If everyone's attacking us, it must mean that people fear us. We have great pride in what we're doing," he added.

Between them, Italy and Germany have won six World Cups and four European championships. They also played one of the most memorable games in history -- Italy's 4-3 extra time win over West Germany in the 1970 World Cup semifinals.

In the 1982 World Cup final, Italy beat West Germany 3-1 for its last major title.

"For me, Italy-Germany will always be that legendary 4-3," Italy coach Marcello Lippi said before the game in March. "Even though we won a World Cup against them in '82, it's that game from 1970 that I always remember."

Meanwhile, Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso couldn't resist taking a swipe back at Der Spiegel after picking up the man-of-the-match award in the game against Ukraine.

"Maybe the editor had a problem because his wife is having an affair with an Italian," said the combative AC Milan midfielder.

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