Goal.com profiles Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi and the role soccer played in his rise to political power. Berlusconi purchased AC Milan in the mid 1980s, when the club was hemorrhaging money and not winning many matches. Berlusconi pumped money into the franchise, shifted to an aggressive, attacking style, and signed a number of foreign stars. The results followed. After Berlusconi took over, AC Milan won seven Serie A championships in eight years and a number of European titles. For Berlusconi, the AC Milan revival gave him the reputation as a decisive leader and master organizer. The next step was logical:
In 1993 he formed his own party and named it, so obviously cunningly, ‘Forza Italia’ (which roughly translates as ‘Go Italy’). Berlusconi started peppering his political speeches with distinct footballing jargon. When he announced his entry into the political arena on January 26, 1994, he so markedly said, “I have chosen to take to the field and involve myself in public life…..” That “take to the field’ phase has gone into Italian political and footballing folklore.
What followed under Berlusconi’s intermittent rule was a time of controversy, scandal, and change in Italy, and it some ways it all traced back to the pitch.