Controversy is brewing in Italian football.

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

During the World Cup, football-crazed Italy grinds to a halt as fans glue themselves to the TV to watch the Azzurri play. But when the national team faces off against Slovakia on Thursday in Johannesburg, not everyone back home will be rooting for the reigning champions. Besides the odd punter, many backers of the Northern League party will be cheering against Marcello Lippi’s squad.

Founded in 1991, the League is no stranger to controversy. Umberto Bossi, the party’s brash, outspoken leader, once raised a middle finger to the Italian national anthem while speaking at a political rally. A separatist movement that has coalesced into a regional political force, the League enjoys support in prosperous towns and cities stretching from Turin to Venice, capitalizing on northern voters’ resentment of the profligate ways of the south and politicians in Rome.

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