Italy have taken the Henri Delaunay trophy back to Rome after a penalty shootout against England at Wembley Stadium. The decisive penalties were taken by the inexperienced Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, gifting Italy victory by the narrowest of margins.
England, previously surprise semi-finalists at the 2018 World Cup, surprised again by going one step further and reaching the Final this year. Manager Gareth Southgate has been keen to fan speculation that he might actually be a competent international football manager, an attribute never before seen as important to the Football Association when employing a new boss.
“We generally look for someone who isn’t going to embarrass us, we’ve been through the gamut of hiring brown envelope merchants and shaggers too many times. This time, we were looking for someone who could plan for a football match, speak articulately and not be so old that planning for the World Cup after next was unrealistic. We couldn’t find the ideal candidate, but Gareth Southgate came along and he’d relegated Middlesbrough.”Lord Jonty Farquarshon-Smythe, FA Spokesman and keen footballist
Italy, on the other hand, had suffered the shock of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and, in an attempt to re-establish itself at football’s top table, trawled the pool of former English Premiership club managers when looking for talent.
“We looked initially to Chelsea. They had an abundance of ex-managers to choose from, but they kept sacking their manager so regularly that we couldn’t whittle the candidates down to a shortlist. Every time we ruled someone out, Chelsea sacked their manager and we had to add him to the list. It was impossible. In the end, we chose Roberto Mancini, formerly of Manchester City.”Gianni Napatone, Italian FA Spokesman
But it’s not just managers and players in the spotlight this week. Questions have been asked as to how perennial international underachievers, England, are now apparently quite good, and how Italy, recent strugglers, are now champions once again.
So, what is the answer?
Answers may have been found in research undertaken by the Institute for Cheating At Sport.
“Sometimes, the evidence stands out a little too obviously. The old English trick of fixing the draw seems alive and well to us. Look at the last World Cup. England knew if they could get out of their group, they’d have an easy path towards the final. Columbia, Sweden and Croatia. And they still cocked it up from 1-0 in front against Croatia. All the good teams were on the other side of the draw. The same worked at the Euros. I mean, they managed to draw Scotland in their group, for heaven’s sake. Everyone knows how they do it. You warm some of the balls up before putting them in the velvet bag, then pay Michel Platini a suitable amount to pick the right ball out.
Borisini Johnsoni, Professional Cheat
As for the Italians, well, it’s crude but effective. They take it in turns to commit professional fouls which will never amount to more than a yellow card, but potentially stop the other team from attacking. Nobody does it twice, so nobody is sent off. They all take turns. Five of them were booked against England. That’s half of their outfield team. And, of course, they are past masters at time wasting. Look at the Austria game. Our research proves they are a bunch of cheating bastardos, but they are ok with it as long as they win.”
Meanwhile, fifty-five years of English hurt will become fifty-six at Qatar 2022, where Italy will hope to avoid Argentina in a kicking contest.