Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Immortalized in soccer stadiums

Immortalized in soccer stadiums
Some Italian legends go down in history to become saints. Others lend their names to soccer stadiums. If you’re an Italian footballer, there can be no greater honor than having a stadium named after you, after all, if football is a religion, then the stadium is the church where fans come to worship.

Many of the 16 biggest stadiums in Italy are named after sporting icons. Artemio Franchi was president of the Italian Soccer federation for many years and has the Stadio Artemi Franchi in both Sienna and Florence named after him. Milan’s Stadio Giuseppe Meazza is named after the two time World Cup winner, Sicily’s Stadio Angelo Massimino is named after Calcio Catania’s chairman of 25 years and Stadio Oreste Granillo in Reggio Calabria, named after the city team’s ex president, who went on to become mayor.

Not all stadiums are named after sports icons. In true Italian style, religion still plays a role, with Stadio San Paolo, Stadio San Nicola and San Fillipo all taking their names from saints, while others like Stadi Friuli and Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia taking their names simply from their locations. But with the global trend of granting naming rights to corporate sponsors, some people wonder how long these traditional names will last and whether in the next wave of names to be immortalized, the names of our heroes are replaced by brands of beer, airlines or banks.