“Football is a very simple barometer of a society,” says Paddy Agnew, an Irish Times correspondent and former RAI television commentator who has covered Italian soccer since the 1980s. “And if the red light is flashing in society, the red light is flashing in football. That’s what it is here, they’ve run out of petrol. This is a society — and it is not just football — that has stood still for 30 years.”
You can see many the troubles of Italian life through a lens of Italy’s favorite sport. A struggling economy exerts pressure on the country’s social fabric. High unemployment means plenty of young men living in their parents’ homes with little to do. To cope, many simply dive deeper into their calcio [Italian for football].
—Peter Simek, writing in SB Nation about Italian football culture and the Rome-based football club A.S. Roma.