Italy vs Serbia
Tonight is the Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan, a re-run of the amazing 2005 final which Liverpool won on penalties after being 0-3 down. Steven Gerrard, what a hero. I very much hope that Liverpool manage to win again.
Although I cannot say I am a fan of Liverpool (Southampton is ' my' club), I always like to see Liverpool doing well in Europe as it brings back the heyday of the 1980's when they did so well until the Heysel incident. In 1984, Liverpool pulled off another memorable feat by winning the equivalent of the Champions League final by beating the mighty AS Roma IN Rome, again wining on penalties after a 1-1 draw. My parents were living in Rome - in Testaccio, as it happens - where this photo was recently made - and I remember my Mum telling me about all the excitement there was on the streets on the night of the final.
Another particular reason why I would like to se Liverpool win is that, much as I admire and respect the players of AC Milan, it has to be said that the club is owned by one of my least favourite people, arch crook and, as yet unconvicted criminal, Silvio Berlusconi.
He was the longest serving post-war Prime Mininister who lost in the elections of last year to Romano Prodi. Despite promising much, it seems as if he did not do an awful lot ot change Italy and probably not for the better. He did seem devote an awful amount of time in changing the laws regarding the prosecution and introducung time limits and so on. Most people thought he did this to protect himself from eventual conviction, for all his past misdemeanours (how else would he have become so rich?)
The Italians were some of the first to establish universities and to develop a modern legal system. However, it seems that their legal system has become rotten to the core, with so many political trials never reaching a successful conclusion, so many misdeeds going unprosecuted. There are many reasons for this, including a very complicated legal code, incompetence, links to organised crime (the Mafia) and, quite probably political interference.
Two books which describe very well the terrible state of the Italian judicial system are: The Dark Heart of Italy by Tobias Jones and Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb.
So, what is the connection to Serbia? Not that Red Star Belgrade have made it to the Champions League final, but that a Serbian Court has today found 12 men guilty of assassinating the then Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic in 2003. (This is reported by the BBC on this link).
Not only do the Serbians have a result, they even managed to bring the case to court and obtain convictions within 4 years of the deed having been perpetrated. In Italy, it would be quite impossible to think of even bringing a case to court in such a short space of time, let alone get a conviction. Hats off, then, to Serbia!
And.. good luck to Liverpool this evening.