During lunch at the local mensa today, it was explained to me that Lazio, one of the two soccer teams in Rome, may have thrown yesterday's game to Inter Milan, because Rome, the other club in Rome, is vying with Inter for first place, and the rivalry between Lazio and Rome is so intense that Lazio would rather throw a game and allow Milan to take the trophy rather than see their rival ranked #1.
And this was accepted by my Italian companions are non-startling and rather mundane.
1) Would American sports fans default to another local team (probably a rival) if their team were knocked out of contention, or would they support "anyone but..."? (The NY Yankees and Dallas Cowboys don't count for this question.)
2) Would American sports fans ever accept Italy's degree of rivalry, whereby games are fixed and significant rival losses are more important than one's own wins?
3) Does this sort of thinking in soccer shed a great deal of light on the rise of Berlusconi and Italian politics?