Date: 15th May 2008 at 11:25am
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Vital QPR can exclusively bring you an interview with the members of QPR Italia, we take a look at several issues surrounding the club through Italian eyes.

Francesco from QPR Italia gives us an insight here into being an Italian Rangers fan.

First and foremost if you`d like to give a brief introduction of yourself and how you became a Rangers fan? Have you supported the club since the investment or before?

My name is Francesco, I’m 36 years old and I live in Pescia, in the heart of Tuscany, half an hour away from Florence.

Yes, QPR became ‘famous’ in Italy only after the acquisition by Briatore and Ecclestone, but I have been interested in it since when I was very young and I had as a gift a strange football shirt with horizontal blue and white stripes. An amazing shirt from an English football club with a fascinating name: Queens Park Rangers. I started watching QPR’s matches on TV (at the time the matches were broadcasted freely on many channels) with great affection and they were catching. It was love at first sight.

What is the broader perspective of Queens Park Rangers in the Italian media? Was the Italian public aware of QPR before Briatore invested?

In Italy QPR is known by the acquisition by Briatore, before that it was one of the many English football teams. In my country the most famous teams are the usual: Man Utd, Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool (Dudek is a hero for 3/4 of Italians) and Chelsea (after the Abramovic coming). The other teams are only known to the English football enthusiasts. However, it’s rare to find someone who knows ‘minor’ English football teams.

Obviously the coming of Briatore had roused much interest around QPR, the signing of De Canio and the engagement with Lotto increased the interest even further. Italian media (normally very misinformed and ignorant) rarely put the emphasis on the matches result`s, because they prefer to bring out the ‘glam’ side of it. Naomi Campbell on the Loftus Road stands, Zidane as coach, the great signings (most of the times completely invented) and Briatore’s friendship with Giraudo and Moggi (former Juventus’ managers).

From the ‘Italian’ point of view I can tell that the people who talk about English football are beginning to talk about ‘Briatore’s team’ other than the usual top teams. If Briatore’s plans will work out the interest around QPR will only increase.

All the things Briatore does draw the media attention, maybe they don’t tell who would be the new coach or the new players, but QPR’s progress will be followed, I’m sure of that.

It’s a fact that in Italy attention for foreign football is increasing more and more, probably something to do with the 2006 scandal and the continued poisoning played by media and football managers too. We look at football as an enjoyment but in Italy there’s too much squabble…

Looking a bit closer at the media itself, how are QPR covered on television and the internet?

On TV we have a good covering of Premier League by Sky Italia and for the Championship there is SportItalia, but it broadcasts only a match a week and a weekly program with some news: ‘The Championship’, I think it’s a reprise from some English TV. Generally, however, QPR has the favours of many Italians, maybe because it’s seen like a Cinderella close to the fulfilling of her dream.

On the Internet things change and it’s good to realise that there’s a sincere interest around the club, suffice to know that my little site has hit 18,000 accesses and around 400 comments in less than 6 months. In addition there’s a forum for the Italian Rangers supporters, ‘London W12’, currently hosted by the Italian Aston Villa supporters on Latin Lions, and the R’s news appears on many forums, newsgroups, blogs and on many other sites.

On the Internet the users are generally very young, which it would ensure a good ‘nursery’ of future supporters. They are however very well informed and highly critical. When I write a wrong date or I miss a name on QPRItalia I’m quickly corrected. When I created the site I found out that QPR were well known by young Italian fans before the ‘Italian Era’ and there had been many criticisms to the fact that QPR fell in ‘foreign hands’, but when they saw which hands it was in, the criticism went away. ‘Pecunia non olet’ as we say in Latin.

What is the general opinion of the job Luigi De Canio has done for QPR, and the way he left?

De Canio`s dismissal caught everyone by surprise. Yes, there had been many rumours around it, but it was considered only ‘gossip’. It was sad when he left, because of the technical loss as well as the
human. When Italian supporters went to Loftus Road, Gigi had always been very nice and willing and he seemed sincerely attached to the QPR project.

It’s a pity, Italian supporters were very satisfied of the results achieved by the man, with his way of managing the team and his future ideas.

I can also add that I’m sure (and when I write you ‘sure’ I mean ‘sure’) that De Canio didn’t leave QPR because he was homesick, but because his goals weren’t shared by the management. De Canio wanted a greater effort on the transfer market to achieve a more competitive team.

What was your opinion of the gossip surrounding Walter Novellino becoming the R`s boss before the news of Iain Dowie?

We were shocked and when we found out the rumours about Novellino and we became scared. He’s the former Torino coach and he’s famous in Italy for the wrong reasons.

Our Federation fined him 10,000 Euros when he was suspended for the fixture between Parma and Torino, he tried to sneak into his team locker room in a dirty linen box, and he was promptly caught by the security. In Italy someone wrote about Camolese and Di Carlo, but I think were only gossip.

What was the reaction to Iain Dowie`s appointment as First Team Coach of QPR?

I don’t know what to say. In Italy he’s not known at all and I vaguely remember him from the time he played for QPR, the Italian media have ignored the fact, at least until now. The ones who know English football better than me are dubious and don’t think the change from De Canio to Dowie a step forward.

The thing is that we’re worried about a less clear planning than the management has always claimed, but it’s not enough to spoil the trust we have (at least for now).

However, Iain Dowie is QPR’s coach, therefore Iain Dowie is my coach. Forza Dowie!

I noticed members of QPR Italia at the last game of the season against West Bromwich Albion, was that your first visit to Loftus Road?

It wasn’t me. They were some friends, Rangers fans, I know via the Internet. This year there have been many Italian friends of mine at Loftus Road. Some of them only for the match, others got lucky and met the team and managers before the match.

It’s been years that I haven’t been able to come to London, but we’re organising to come, as QPRItalia, at least one time next year. The ones who came were enthusiastic about the match.

In England the match is something very different from the ones in Italy where, unfortunately, the stadiums are in the hands of the hooligans (we call them ‘ultras’) and you can’t really enjoy the show, but it would be very long to explain all this. What I can tell you is that they came back very very pleased.

What are your hopes for the future of Queens Park Rangers?

As I wrote I have been a QPR supporter for a long time and my greatest hope is that the team never lose its identity and its dimension of a ‘small’ team with a great charm and prestige.

My hope, in a few words, is that money doesn’t spoil the QPR soul. I don’t think that QPR will ever arrive to Man Utd or Chelsea level, and frankly I’m happy about that, but I hope in the future with a good team, we will always compete in whatever competition QPR will play.

Thanks to you, a greeting to all English friends and… FORZA QPR!!

You can find Francesco and QPR Italia by clicking here. If your Italian isn`t quite up to scratch you can translate the page at a click by clicking the British logo on the right hand side of the page.

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  • Always refreshing to get a view from another group, and it opened my eyes to the disappointment they have in their own game. Interesting also that we’re referred to as ‘Briatore’s team’

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