Vittorio Pozzo


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Benito Mussolini (1883—1945) Italian Fascist statesman, Prime Minister 1922–43


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An Italian football player and coach/manager who achieved unprecedented international success leading Italy's national side to World Cup titles in 1934 and 1938, the Olympic title in 1936, and two victories in the same decade in what was then the central European championships for national sides. From a middle-class Italian background, Pozzo was well travelled and had played football in Switzerland and followed football in England. He is notable for his tactical acumen, evolving the metodo defensive formation, and for his open-minded internationalism towards oriundi (‘nationals’, or players from other countries with some Italian ancestry, in particular Argentines). The wider context, with obviously determining influences, was that his major achievements came during the fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini, when state-sponsored sport received great priority, and all the national side's players could be registered as full-time students. Referees made suspiciously dubious decisions in key World Cup matches, and controversy was generated by Pozzo's insistence that his players make the fascist salute at matches and ceremonies, arguing disingenuously that the action was merely the national symbol of the moment. Some speculation has linked his name to the blind, privileged, disrupting, and aristocratic character Pozzo in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

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