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Affaire Fantunes: Michele Leone’s opinion

Posted on 02 May 2010

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Whether or not they were convened for the European championship, they are all excellent players at a technical level. On an international level however the merits of Lauria and Versace are renowned.

Fulvio Fantoni, a champion with rare humanity, is better known and loved by Italian bridge players also because of a series of related activities (BBO and Bridge Trips etc.). It’s therefore understandable that his not being convened creates very bad humor. This however is only part of the problem.

I’ll explain: the Italian Bridge Federation did not have, and still does not have economic resources to support the Blue Team. Unlike the USA unfortunately in Italy we have only two great sponsors: Francesco Angelini and Maria Teresa Lavazza (in alphabetic order). Together they have done a great deal for Italian bridge, with passion, and thanks to their constant commitment we’ve had great achievements in the last ten years.

However there has been dissension between the two sponsors for just over the last year.

The conflict appeared obvious in the electoral campaign for the FIGB President in March 2009. As we all know, Ms. Lavazza supported Dr. Tamburi who won the election. As happens in these cases, Ms. Lavazza and her men took over important positions, in addition to that of the newly elected president.

The result: undoubtedly greater dedication on Ms. Lavazza’s part, but unfortunately less involvement by Mr. Angelini who among other things, no longer has an important representative on the current federal board of directors. Obviously this has repercussions also on Angelini’s team.

In my opinion there has been a great strategic error: practically speaking in order to change a president, one of the main sponsors was not safeguarded. A sponsor who among other activities, during the last year has distinguished himself personally in a series of activities to relaunch bridge (the RAI TV series, universities, youth championships), for which the bridge world is extremely grateful.

The Fantoni case only increases this resentment.

Given these premises, this is my opinion about the whole matter:

Opinion no. 1

The members of the teams must not be chosen by the technical official, whoever this may be. The choice must be made on a technical basis, or in other words, as the result of selection, as in all the countries of the world (including the USA).

Any team is free to include and test new players, obviously at its own risk.

A fact: in the latest matches Angelini’s team has always beaten the Lavazza team. A challenge match could be organized, as in Culbertson’s day, to be transmitted on BBO obviously.

Opinion no. 2

I strongly hope that as soon as possible both the sponsors, as real lovers of bridge, will bury the hatchet and reach an agreement at least on the technical and financial management of the Blue Team. Additionally, and obviously, the players involved must also make peace.

It’s possible to consider a turnover of the pairs of players, if clearly regulated.


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