Football Virtuosos and the uncomfortable truth by the scholar Arnaldo Momigliano

From “Football is coming home” to “Is going to Rome”. The triumph of the Italian national Football team can be summed up in this sentence. But are we really sure that football, with the Wembley victory, has not returned to its real home? A little joking and a little no, on the eve of the final in Pagine Ebraiche we talked about a truly original book, Calcio!, by the Colombian writer Juan Esteban Constaín.
The protagonist of the book – a novel, but with precise historical connections – is Arnaldo Momigliano, a
a great Jewish scholar of antiquity who fled Italy after the promulgation of the racist laws of 1938. In Oxford, where that illustrious exiled is welcomed, he exposes a thesis that shocked those present: Football is not English, but Italian. And more precisely Florentine.
The audience agitates. The offense is of such magnitude that it even comes to a trial. It is pure fiction. But what Constaín makes Momigliano say is the truth: “Football” as we know it today would perhaps never have existed if the so-called historical Florentine football had not been played for centuries. An ancient tradition, which dates back to the fifteenth century.
It was a football still in an embryonic state but whose basic principles have influenced contemporary pedestrian art. Starting from the layout of the field on four lines, echoing the deployment of the ancient Romans in battle. In fact, historical football has that origin, inspired by a game in vogue among the troops of the Empire: the harpastum. From this we can conclude that “Is going to Rome”, pronounced by Leonardo Bonucci after the final triple whistle, can also take on the full meaning of “is coming back to home-base”. Grazie Azzurri!