Categorized | Commentary

Giuseppe Rossi: Not a traitor

Posted on 16 June 2009 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Clifton, N.J.-born Giuseppe Rossi has never been a favorite of U.S. soccer fans. His decision to play for the Italian national team rather than the U.S. was criticized at length. Now, after scoring (twice) against the U.S. Men’s National Team in yesterday’s Confederations Cup match, the critique is even harsher. Unprintable, even.

Rossi’s crime was not only deciding to play for the Azzurri or his feat of scoring (twice) against the country of his birth, but also the fact that he had the audacity to celebrate his exploits on the pitch. How dare he?!?

We aren’t the first to say this, but we’re going to go on the record right now and say that Rossi has absolutely nothing to apologize for.

Let’s revisit the facts first: Born in New Jersey to Italian parents, Rossi was barely old enough for junior high school when he decided to pursue a professional soccer career in Italy. At age 13, he moved to Parma, where he was offered a spot on its youth team. His rights were sold, first to Manchester United, then to Villareal. He played all his youth international games for Italy. Aside from a brief dalliance from Bruce Arena ahead of the 2006 World Cup, there is no evidence Rossi ever received overtures to play for the U.S. (For what it’s worth, whatever his abilities as a coach, Bruce Arena is not the most charming man you’ll meet). Nor do we have any reason to believe Rossi even would have considered playing for the USMNT had he been approached earlier or more consistently. Yes, he was born in the U.S., but he was taught soccer by his Italian-born father (who raised him with his Italian-born mother), perfected his game in the Italian youth ranks (presumably under the tutelage of Italian coaches) and has not lived in the U.S. since 2000. For all we know, his first language is Italian. Playing for Italy is not only his right, but a perfectly sensible decision for a player with his background.

In fact, the decision to play for Italy was a big risk if he ever wanted to have a national team career of any sort. Winners of four World Cups (including the most recent edition) and home to one of the best professional leagues on the planet, competition for Italy’s national team spots is fierce. Personnel decisions are analyzed meticulously by the country’s soccer-mad press. The pressure on players fortunate enough to don the national team kit is intense. Every mistake is scrutinized at great length in the papers and cafes and grottos and wherever else people gather. Many players’ lives (and those of their families) are ruined as a result.

Why would any young man make the decision to expose himself to this maelstrom when he had a far easier, safer choice available to him? Rossi would have been all but guaranteed a starting spot for the USMNT, probably for as long as he wanted, where he would not have been subject to anywhere near the same scrutiny. Only Rossi knows the answer for sure, but suffice it to say he is not short on ambition. While all of the aforementioned negative fallout is certainly possible (and that’s if he even made the team in the first place) the opposite is true too. It Italy, World Cup heroes from Giuseppe Meazza through Paolo Rossi (no relation, at least none that we know of) to Gianluigi Buffon are arguably more popular than the pope (probably not arguably when the pope is non-Italian, as has been the case since 1978).

With the Italian national team, Rossi has a chance to be a national hero. Yes, it’s a longshot it will actually happen (for starters no European team has won a World Cup outside of its home continent and the 2010 and 2014 World Cups will both be held outside Europe). And again, Rossi is still not guaranteed a spot on the team. But he has obviously set his sights very high. And who can blame him for that?

Rossi is many things, including a highly gifted striker whose talent appears rivaled by his ambition. His decision to play for Italy is a reflection of this. A traitor, he ain’t. U.S. soccer fans need to point the finger elsewhere.

26 Comments For This Post

  1. C. Petruzzelli Says:

    The United States Soccer fans and whomever else decides to down Rossi, needs to go take a hike. I would be happy too about scoring two goals in a game… Where do you get off degrading them for their wonderful performance regardless of who’s team they are on!?!

    I’m proud of Rossi and wish him the best. He’s damn good at what he does and if he decided to play for Italy so be it. Don’t be so damn lame about it. Be happy for him. You don’t like him anyway, so why would you sit and freakin go off about it?

    Rossi is an excellent at what he does and I hope he continues his success on whichever team he decides to go with.

    You people sound like Brett Favre fans for crying out loud. It isn’t life or death. Leave it be.

  2. Tim Says:

    Baloney!……or should I say balogna!

    Of course he doesn't have to apologize. He's a legit Italian citizen and had the right to make the decisions he has. Nevertheless, every choice has a consequence. If Rossi wants to be an Azzuri hero, it makes him an American Villain. Period. He doesn't have to apologize, but he has to deal with American soccer fans hating his guts……which I do.

  3. ASN_Editor Says:

    Fair enough. I suppose that's thinking like a fan rather than like a rational human being. It happens. It wouldn't be professional sports otherwise.

  4. jpbaz Says:

    Like to see him be a man about it and renounce his citizenship! Great player but he has made his choice to represent his homeland (Italy).

    As a true Boston Sports fan I will not apologize for hating on the Yankees, Kobe, and Giuseppe Rossi. 🙂

  5. Italywatch Says:

    its Bologna, and ur so ignorant its disgusting…a villain of America? ur villain is the Taliban!

  6. Mike Says:

    Look Rossi should be disliked because he is A) an opposing player for a nation that we have a dubious soccer history with B) Was born in Jersey & therefore had every opportunity to play for us and C) scored 2 goals against the US in an international tournament. Honestly, imagine what Italian fans would be doing to the family of a player that did the same thing AGAINST them! The Ultras are famous for racist, barbaric, dispicible behavior and here we are criticizing American fans for talking about "hating his guts?" How long would it take for Rossi's parents to lose their jobs & have their house burned down if he was born in Parma & they still lived there, but he chose to come play in the USA because his father was an American and then scored 2 goals against the Azzurri in the Confed Cup? Seriously, fans should be passionate about their team and their players . . . do you remember the TRAITOR chants when Johnny Damon went from the Sox to the Yankees? Where were the articles decrying the Red Sox Nation to "point their fingers elsewhere?"

    Ridiculous, the soccer media in the US is so sensitive . . . with all art whether it be movies, music, paintings, sport, or anything else there is inherent criticism. Quit crying for Guiseppe Rossi's "feelings" and let fans be passionate in a way that doesn't include criminal behavior like it most likely would in several other countries (or after a Laker championship).

  7. Colin Says:

    Hear, hear! Rossi can play for Italy if he wants to, but we don't have to like it, or him. As a U.S. fan I have every right to call him a traitor. Just like Landycakes was for going to LA from San Jose

  8. Jeff Says:

    Soccer fans that feel Rossi is a traitor are soft and insecure. Like others have said, people are too sensitive and weak. GTFOY folks. There's a reason the mass media dislike soccer: Most of the USA fans are pu*******

  9. Alberto Says:

    Just shows the different attitudes towards soccer. Rossi playing for the Italy is treated with mostly indifference. However, on the flip side if he decided to play for the US instead of Italy and scored against his other country, he would be branded a traitor and his extended family in Italy would be kicked out of the country or be killed.
    His star is on the rise and I wish him will. However, take it from someone who did live in Italy and God help if he ever makes a mistake. If you do not believe me look at Roberto Donadoni, (better known as MerdaDoni) who got ridiculed for his entire career for missing a PK against Argentina in Italia 1990.

  10. chad Says:

    "alberto" makes a great point: if the shoe were on the other foot and bradley had subbed rossi in and he had scored twice to doom italy in the confed cup you can bet that every single soccer fan in italy would brand him as a traitor and probably worse. to rationalize why rossi shouldn't be hated is silly. this is sport and it's almost never rational. if we were rational, we surely wouldn't root for the u.s. mens national team.

  11. lprevolution Says:

    Let us remember how Italians treated Ahn Jung-Hwan after 2002.

  12. ASN_Editor Says:

    Check out the Reuters entry on this topic (which quotes from this post):

  13. Giuseppe Says:

    Paolo rossi is his father.
    I can’t believe you’d write the article and not know this fact.

  14. Lino Says:

    When the US embraces soccer as top sport then the top players will want to play for the US soccer team. To this day I still route for Italy during the World Cup even when they play the USA.

  15. In4lycon22 Says:

    well i grew up in Clifton NJ and i remember playing with Giuseppe in the park by school 3 and at the league we played. He was youger than me but even at that age he was fast and had great football skills. I wondered where he went but when i saw the game where he scored 2 goals on us i immedeatly knew. I dont have any hate or anything like that because he wanted to be a soccer player and he went to the best place to learn it. If my sons or daughter really excelled at some sport i would take them where they could best reach their potential. Well he did not make the team for the world cup but i wish him the best and good luck

  16. Lone Star Dick Says:

    Go fuck yourself Rossi and your family left Italy for a reason just keep that in mind fag

  17. Italywatch Says:

    You are a gross individual…calling Rossi a fag, yet ur Lone Star Dick…so ignorant and fredderico is right, 100% redneck

  18. Greggreg Says:

    Get use to getting Cut from the italian national team Rossi. They will never let an “American” play for them. They're a racist country and although you're not black, they see you as a American. Funny how The Americans made it to the knockout round and ITaly was home on the couch watching.

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  24. fredderico Says:


  25. TheGame Says:

    Hey Fredderico, if he is Italian as apposed to Italian-American why doesn’t he claim his Italian citizenship. It would be one thing to decide to play your club soccer for a team abroad, but if you’re going to claim your nationality is American, then it is really only decent you should seek to play for America. I could be wrong, maybe he does have Italian citizenship, but for some reason I don’t think that is the case.

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