Italian television coverage of the World Cup has sparked controversy over pundit Lele Adani’s passionate support of Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
The Azzurri are not at the tournament in Qatar, so there can be no accusations of bias towards their own nation.
A survey before the competition began found most Italians were cheering on Argentina for 2022, as so many Italian immigrants moved out there and put down roots, while there are also several players in the squad who are familiar to Serie A.
However, some believe Adani is taking it too far in his commentary of Argentina’s 2-0 win over Mexico, after an initial shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia.
When Messi broke the deadlock with a shot from outside the box, former Brescia midfielder Adani went wild in the commentary booth.
“Leo Messi! The best left foot in the world! From Di Maria to Messi, always Rosario! The city of football, one for the other, the deadlock is broken! All stand for the best player in the world! Respect for the Number One!”
Adani took over by practically drowning out commentator Stefano Bizzotto with his screaming.
Comments started on social media and have since multiplied to reach a formal complaint from the Association of Radio and Television Users.
“Not just football fans, but general viewers are protesting against the excessive and inopportune behaviour of the commentator.
“The commentary seems more like transmitting live from a sports bar than a public service like RAI that is meant to provide guarantees to its licence payers.”
Adani has never disguised his fondness for South American football, particularly Argentina and Uruguay, but video of him holding on to the Argentina flag during his commentary was said to be ‘disrespectful’ towards Mexico.
Adani is most famous in Italy for clashing very publicly with Juventus coach Max Allegri, as they have fundamental differences over whether beautiful football is important or merely an afterthought to the result.