Tuesday, February 11, 2014

11: CREWDETTO.

scudetto, lo (n)

Shield-shaped emblem which signifies that a team has won the Serie A championship. Introduced in 1924, in the early years the symbol consisted of a patch which was literally pinned or sewn on to the winning team's shirts for the whole season in which they were champions. Teams win the scudetto.

-John Foot, Winning At All Costs: A Scandalous History of Italian Soccer, page 568.


My favorite foreign soccer league is Italy's Serie A. This is mostly because my favorite European team since the early 1990s has been Inter. This is mostly because the first player that I remember really watching closely and thinking "Wow, this is guy is awesome" was Jurgen Klinsmann, who played for Inter from 1989 to 1992. You might know Jurgen Klinsmann as the current head coach of the United States Men's National Team and THE GREATEST COACH IN THE HISTORY OF HUMAN SPORTS AND SPECIFICALLY SOCCER.

Admittedly, my opinion may be biased, but whatever. I'm right.

Friends will sometimes ask me, "How can you like Serie A? Italian football is rife with cheaters and scoundrels. It's boring. There's no scoring. It's all defense. How? HOW?" To which I, usually, say…"Drama."

I love the dramatic century-long story of Italian soccer and how it seems to become more and more layered with dramatics and story every year. It's really quite indescribable. There's nothing like it anywhere else in Europe, and certainly Major League Soccer—though it's our domestic league and I love it dearly—just doesn't come close to the intense, operatic drama that happens on a weekly basis in Italian soccer, or Calcio. Perhaps the Argentine Primera Division comes close, which makes sense considering the close ties that the two nations and their soccer share. I don't know how the soccer in Italy manages to top itself for drama, entertainment, chaos, scandal, and, yes, very good soccer every season, but it does, and I love it.

The tifo and curva culture that has been embraced by supporters around MLS and marketed by Major League Soccer and its front offices (sometimes it seems the league markets its supporters more than its players and sport) was established and cultivated in Italy. MLS supporters and those around the world have learned a lot about expressing support for our own teams by paying attention to Italian supporters and the history of Italian soccer. That being said, there are some awful characteristics about Italian supporter culture that I am very glad are on the other side of the Atlantic and, thankfully, rarely seen in Major League Soccer venues and among our supporters. I won't get into those details, here. Let's just say that some things are better off viewed from a distance. As much as I love Calcio and its history, there are certainly reasons why I'm glad the Columbus Crew are not in Serie A.

One Italian tradition that I'm glad American soccer has adopted is displayed on the jerseys of every one of our MLS Cup champions, and greatly desired by the rest of the teams and fans in our league: the scudetto.

The definition from John Foot's excellent book points out that the scudetto tradition was started in 1924. After winning their 9th Italian football championship, Genoa decided to affix to their jerseys a small emblem in the shape of a shield that featured the colors of the Italian flag. This became a tradition for every subsequent campione d'Italia. It's been worn in different ways over the decades, but its shape and the reverence for it has remained relatively the same.

Columbus has a significant Italian heritage, though that's not the reason why I thought a scudetto-inspired redesign of the Columbus Crew badge was worth trying. Though the MLS scudetto has been around since 2006, the first team to wear the current MLS scudetto—the one that really matters—was our Columbus Crew. Our beloved, legendary Massive Champions wore the MLS scudetto in 2009.

So, with that, here's a simple, elegant, basic, and refreshing redesign that I'm going to call "The Crewdetto."

Molto bene.


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