Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Talking with your hands: even soccer stars do it

Talking with your hands: even soccer stars do it
We’ve already told you about the strong role non-verbal communication plays in Italian conversations. From wild hand gestures to subtle nods, finger movements or scratches of the chin, Italians embrace the opportunity to be expressive with more than their words. And so it is on the soccer pitch too.

Italian footballers are famous as much for their acting as their sportsmanship, making every game a chance for a stellar performance. Whether it’s a motivating signal to team-mates, or passing on a secret code, to expressing frustration at a bad referee call or a protest at a dubious tackle, there’s always an opportunity to signal to the fans and TV cameras your thoughts, when no one can hear your voice.

In the 2014 Brazil World Cup, Italian striker Mario Balotelli celebrated his team’s victory over England on camera with a cheeky wink and the score displayed on his fingers – 2-1. Hand gestures on the pitch aren’t always good news though. While manager of Inter Milan, Jose Mourinho was slapped with a $60k fine and three match ban after making a handcuffs gesture at the referees after he thought they were victimizing his team against their rivals. Sometimes, things really are better left unsaid, or expressed.