Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First Name Terms

I don't usually blog about soccer or sport, but I was reading about the resignation of Giovanni Trapattoni as manager of the Irish soccer team just now and something about the statement from the Football Association of Ireland struck me as interesting.

This was the passage that struck me:

“This particular World Cup campaign has been disappointing, but Giovanni leaves us with a group of good young players which should form the basis of the squad that the new manager will use for the European Championships in France 2016 when 24 teams qualify.”

Now, why should they use Giovanni there? I would think that a man in his seventies, who has achieved a huge amount of success in the field of football management, deserves a respectful "Mr" in such a context, rather than to have his Christian name bandied about in a formal press release.

Of course, some people see the use of titles as stuffy and stiff, and believe that using a person's first name is much more friendly. I don't agree with this. I agree with Chesterton instead, who wished that the spirit of democracy and fraternity had brought about universal civility rather than the universal incivility of everybody using everybody else's given name so presumptiously. (Or something like that. I can't find the quotation online.)

I liked Trapattoni. Partly because he seemed like a very dignified man, but also (I have to admit) because he is a daily Mass-goer. I sometimes wonder if the latter fact is part of the reason the Irish sports media hated him so much, and blamed him so unreasonably for not turning sow's ears into silk purses.


  1. I'm kind of with you but maybe within the FAI everyone addressed him as Giovanni and that has made it into the press release. In which case, it would be quite a nice touch, no?

  2. Even in that case I would tend to think that, because it is a public and formal communication, the familiarity is disrespectful.

    I am sure no slight was intended-- it's more the tendency than the particular instance I'm complaining about.

  3. Maolseachlann, a propos of nothing, ever tried the Bill Powel Is Alive blog? If not, thought you might enjoy this post

  4. I never heard of it! That was a good post. It was funny that he described Chesterton's famous quatrain about the Irish as "exaggerated!!". He seems quirky. Thank you!