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Mussolini's Dream of Italian Dominance

After the successful March on Rome in the October of 1922, Benito Mussolini and his Partito Nazionale Fascista were in complete control of the Kingdom of Italy. His intentions were to restore the country to its former glory of the Roman Empire and become the premier European power. Even though Benito did not particularly enjoy playing the game, he noticed that soccer, known in Italy as calcio was by far the most popular sport on the peninsula and attempted to nationalize it by reorganizing the Italian Football Federation in 1926. This is known as the Carta di Viareggio and it was important because it brought Italians closer together. The content of the charter is focused mainly on barring foreigners from joining clubs, however South Americans of Italian descent were allowed to compete because he wanted repatriate them with their ancestral homeland. It also combined the Northern and Southern Leagues in a merger to form the national league of Serie A, reinforcing his desire to unify the country.

Mussolini also recognized the future of the nation lied in the hands of the children and set up Fascist youth organizations to indoctrinate them into combating different ideologies. He emphasized the need to grow the game further and that would start with the youth. Former Lazio goalkeeper Uber Gradella was brought up in the Fascist regime and he said in an interview with the BBC, "There was nothing else, football meant everything to us." The use of soccer was imperative for gaining support from the young people because it had a strong correlation with the fascist belief of working together as a team to take on bigger challenges.

The Italians reaped the benefits of forcing soccer upon the children because in 1934, they had won their first World Cup, but this comes with controversy. Italy was chosen as the host nation of the tournament and Mussolini saw this as a means to demonstrate the greatness of the country. The Roman-styled stadiums that he ordered earlier on in his regime were finally completed and ready to be used. Everything was set for the Italians, even the referees. Benito Mussolini is said to have chosen the officials and met with them before the games to go over how they would help the host team win. Italy won the championship with the aid of referees but the same can NOT be said for their clean victories in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the 1938 France World Cup, and various other titles. The Partito Nazionale Fascista used these championships as propaganda to display their dominance as a race and elevate their national pride. Italy was now the supreme squad in the world and that was thanks in part to Benito Mussolini's vision for a new Roman Empire. If only the Italian high command was as competent in the military as soccer, maybe the Axis Powers could have won World War II and Italy would control the Middle East and the entirety of Africa.

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