The story of Yuri Romanò is emblematic of how short-sighted coaches and managers of Italian volleyball clubs are sometimes (but the speech could easily be expanded to football and basketball too). For the past two decades, foreigners have always enjoyed a preferential lane. We honestly never understood why. If a foreigner is superior to an Italian, then it is right that he plays, God forbid: the teams on the other hand invest millions of euros and must field the best possible formation to try to win. The speech changes radically in the majority of cases, that is when mediocre foreigners unfairly take away the place of the talents of our home.
Let’s start from an assumption: unfortunately almost nobody cares about the national team and the love of country. We are not in an ideal world, here only business and profits count, to be achieved at any cost. To be clear, with rare exceptions, you will never find a president or a manager who will point decisively on the Italians for “the good of the national team”. We open our eyes and try to push dreams away from our minds. So the question to ask is the following: with the same value between an Italian and a foreigner, why is our compatriot being discriminated against? Perhaps because a more exotic passport subconsciously instills greater security? We have been looking for an answer for years, but we cannot find it.
Let’s go back to Yuri Romanò. At 25 he has already won the European and the World Cup, he has gone down in history. He could quit tomorrow and his name would not be forgotten. At his age he would seem like a player in full maturity, with a history behind him. Instead this guy has never played as a starter in Superlega, or the Serie A of Italian volleyball! To tell the truth, until the 2020-2021 season he even played in A2 in Siena! Nevertheless, in the past season, the coach Ferdinando De Giorgi (either because he really believed in it, or because there were no alternatives …) gave him confidence, calling him for the continental review. Do you remember how it ended? Yuri Romanò replaced Giulio Pinali in the fourth set of the final against Slovenia: with his left arm he radically changed the inertia of a match that was taking a bad turn for the Azzurri. That evening the attack rate of Brianza was a supernatural 90% …
Yet even this was not enough to deserve the coveted recognition of a leading role in a club team. It was Milan that bought him in Superlega, but to fill the reserve role of the French Jean Patry, who was almost his same age. A foreign Olympic champion against an Italian European champion from A2: guess who played starter all season? Are we sure that the transalpine was really superior to the blue? The World Cup, complete with a quarter-final between Italy and France, gave us a very different answer … Some do-gooders might object that Romanò, last October, was not yet at the level of Patry and that one year in Super League as a reserve for him. has done well to mature: nothing more false! Staying on the bench does not mature anything, experience is acquired by being on the field, with all the errors that follow.
The truth is that the System (deliberately with a capital S) has literally ignored Yuri Romanò for the first part of his career, forcing him to a long apprenticeship in the lower series: who knows, if he had been called Romanovic, Romarinho or Romanchuk perhaps someone would have noticed much earlier of him and now he has been a Superlega holder for 5 years.
Finally, in the season that is about to begin, the blue will start in the Italian top flight with the Piacenza jersey, an ambitious team that does not hide important ambitions, even for the championship. Better late than never. But there is little to rejoice, why cases like that of Romanò have been on the agenda for decades in volleyball, basketball and football: they are snubbed because they are Italian. Yet history teaches and does not lie: if we are the existing nation that has won the most world titles, then it means that we are the best at playing volleyball, it is part of our DNA. Even the bursting triumphs in the youth categories are not valued properly: out of 10 players, it is already a lot that 4 are in Superlega. In addition to myopia towards Italians, perhaps we should speak bluntly of incapacity.