An easy cross for ' il magnifico'

September 17, 1999

The rector of the University of Teramo, in the mountainous Abruzzo region of central Italy, has become captain of one of the best local amateur football teams.

Luciano Russi, who in his youth played in the reserve team of the Lazio premier league football club, and narrowly missed being called to play in national championship matches, said: "There are many analogies between running a university and a football team."

Professor Russi, who is a philosopher and political historian, quoted the late film director and writer Pier Paolo Pasolini. "Both are what Pasolini called 'microsystems', in that individual qualities must be harnessed to an overall purpose, but without crushing individuality," he said.

"The basic difference is that on the football field there are no titles. There is an intimacy, a directness, that develops in the locker room, and then on the field each man is only worth what he does.

"But apart from that there are many similarities, and being captain has taught me a great deal about how to run a university."

Professor Russi is normally addressed as "Magnifico" - his full title when on campus is Magnifico Rettore.

"But on the field they just yell, or clap their hands; every now and then someone shouts 'Hey, professore, over here!'"

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