If it's any consolation to Wynalda and his heart, rumor has it that the U.S. Soccer Federation will pay his $7,000 fine—a blessing because Wynalda will make only about four times that amount this year as a national team member. Moreover, Josef Blatter, the general secretary of FIFA, the World Cup's governing body, stated that referee Kurt Roethlisberger of Switzerland had been "too harsh" in ejecting Wynalda. As Gansler sat in the stands at Comunale Stadium in Florence watching Czechoslovakia beat Austria 1-0 last Friday, he, too, indirectly sympathized with Wynalda.
"See Number 11 for Czechoslovakia? I love that guy," said Gansler, pointing out midfielder Lubomir Morav?�k. "He runs the show. You know it was a setup with Wynalda. Oh, yeah. Morav?�k stomped on Eric's foot. He knew Eric was young and would react."
During the rough Austria- Czechoslovakia game, seven players were given yellow cards, and Gansler turned philosophical. "We've got to have our players play in Europe or start a pro league in the United States," he said. "Our system has taken us as far as it can."
The team that has one of the best systems in the world, of course, is the Azzurri. They also have enough characters on their squad to fill the ceiling of the Sis-tine Chapel. Among the more notable are forwards Salvatore (Tot�) Schillaci and Andrea Carnevale. Schillaci, 25, a 5'6" balding Sicilian who headed the ball into the goal in Italy's opening 1-0 win over Austria, is cocky. "I am a little egotistical, it is true," he says. "But it's also true that the World Cup games are often decided by individual bravery."
The 6-foot-tall, sharp-featured Carnevale, 29, whom Schillaci has been spelling in the second half of Italy's games, has seen things that no one should have to see. As a boy he watched his father stab his mother to death in a jealous rage. Shortly after his father was released from prison, he came home and killed himself. Last week a reporter asked Carnevale if he was upset about having to share time with Schillaci. "With what I've been through in my life," said Carnevale, "you want me to worry about whether I play or not?"
As the U.S.- Italy game approached, it seemed as if the whole country were tuned in. Indeed, the game received the highest ratings of any show on Italian television since records started being kept in 1987—an 81% market share, or 25.7 million viewers.
Just before kickoff, a large group of Meola's relatives, including three great-aunts, his uncle Carmine and more cousins than you could shake a breadstick at, gathered in Torella dei Lombardi to watch the game at cousin Ernesto Teta's house. Torella dei Lombardi (pop: 3,000) is the village in the Campania district of southern Italy where Meola's father, Vinnie, was born and lived until he immigrated to the U.S. in 1958. Because Vinnie's son was playing against the Azzurri, some of the Meola clan had divided loyalties. "When Vinnie left Italy, I wept," said cousin Antonio Sica before the game. "And tonight I am afraid I will weep again—this time for Tony."
A hush fell over the room when The Star-Spangled Banner came on and the camera focused on Tony. "Bellissimo," said 17-year-old Angela Sica, who was wearing a T-shirt with Tony's picture on it. "I am crazy about my cousin. He is outside of everything." If you say so, Angela.
Meanwhile, Tony's great-aunts Luigia, Grazia and Ermelinda cheered in unison, "Meola! Bravo!"
All the same, after Giannini scored for the home team, a loud cheer rang out in the Teta household. By the second half, when the Azzurri looked as if they might let the game slip away, it became clear that Angela was the only one who had remained faithful to Tony. That was confirmed by the roar that sounded at the final whistle. As Antonio Sica put it, "I'm sorry about Tony, but we are Italians."