“Solo per la maglia” – this is a mantra that Italian football fans occasionally display on their matchday banners. The literal English translation reads: “Only for the shirt”.
This can be typically interpreted as a double statement. On one hand, the supporters pledge their allegiance to their beloved club – symbolized by the shirt – while revealing their disdain towards the ownership, management, coach, or on some occasions, the players.
For us Juventus fans who had the honor of witnessing our club consistently performing at the grandest of stages, this may have sounded like an absurd and particularly harsh stance.
Now surely the Bianconeri faithful weren’t always thrilled with the performances of their players or the club’s strategy in general, but we never quite reached the stage where our team became almost unrecognizable… till now.
Win, lose or draw, a Juventus match had always been an exciting prospect. The thought of watching our beloved club in action in a matter of minutes or hours was enough to send chills through our spine.
Unfortunately, matchday delight is now a thing of the past for the Old Lady’s supporters. And no, it’s not just due to the results on the pitch.
For instance, Juventus registered a win and a draw on their last two outings. Yet, those two results failed to evoke any sensations in the fan’s supporters.
After several years of uninspiring displays and mediocre results, Juve didn’t just drain out all the remaining joy we had while watching a sport that is becoming increasingly commercial by the day, but even vented the anger and outrage we used to sense.
At this stage, many of us are simply apathetic, which is certainly the worst sensation a football fan can experience.
Aside from the occasional thrill of watching Federico Chiesa make a daring run or Dusan Vlahovic scoring a vital goal, the harsh reality is that this club currently lacks idols and leaders on and off the pitch, and is being managed by an uninspired tactician who’s offering very few solutions if any.
Whoever nicknamed football the “Beautiful Game” might reconsider the term after enduring a few of our matches under the guidance of Max Allegri.
And let’s not even mention the ownership and the successive managements who drove the club towards the abyss with never-ending legal burdens.
So deprived from all the ecstasy that supposedly accompanies matchday experience, a Juventus supporter may rightfully wonder why must he still bother with following and cheering his adored club when it has become almost unrecognizable.
Seeking an answer for this conundrum would lead us to the very start: “Solo per la Maglia”.
Suddenly, this slogan becomes the only logical answer for the loyal and despaired fan.
The temporary Cristiano Ronaldo fanbase has come and gone, while glory hunters have long found themselves greener pastures. So for those of us who are still holding the Old Lady’s banner, it’s the striped Black-and-White jersey that we rally around in those dolorous years.
At the end of every hollowful display, many among us would angrily vow to never tune in to another Juventus match until a radical changes ensues. But come the following weekend, such words are typically gone with the wind.
Like a true gentleman who never leaves his lady behind, a loyal Juventino would take Alessandro Del Piero’s iconic statement to heart and stick by the club, even if it’s only for the shirt.