Italy’s World Cup qualifying failure and the Azzurri’s real shame

The word “vergogna” is not one you see or hear often in Italy, but you wouldn’t know it from the last 24 hours.

Directed toward the Italian men’s national team, it was shouted from the crowd in Palermo on Thursday night. It was written with venom on the front pages of Friday’s morning paper. It was spelled out in all caps in WhatsApp group chats and it was discussed over the midmorning cappuccino. Frankly, it means “shame.” More colloquially it means “disgrace.” It is a word loaded with such contempt and pique that you have to think twice before using it in this country.

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