Newspapers and information are certainly not having a good time. Sales figures are falling almost everywhere in the world, as paper newspapers are struggling to keep up with the information that spreads via the internet and through various other channels. The only sector which, at least in part, seems to resist is that of sports information, of which the public has long been literally hungry. What are, however, the most important Italian and international sports newspapers to be followed on paper or possibly through the related website?
Today we try to answer this question, obviously touching the sacred monsters of the sector such as La Gazzetta Dello Sport, which cannot miss in such a list, but also going further and trying to give you a complete overview of what European sport offers.
Obviously an eye will be reserved for football, which attracts the attention of many readers. We will point out, however, on a case by case basis, also those newspapers that reserve an important space for other sports, from cycling to basketball, from volleyball to rugby.
If among the five we have chosen, your favorite newspaper is missing, be sure to report it in the comments you find at the bottom of the page. In this way, our other readers will also be able to discover your reference newspaper.
1. The Gazzetta dello Sport
Let’s start, as is a must, from the best-selling Italian sports newspaper, La Gazzetta Dello Sport. Published by Gruppo Editoriale RCS, it is based in Milan and boasts an ancient history, so much so that it is the longest-running sports newspaper in Europe.
It was founded in 1896. It was initially published by Raffaele Sonzogno, who was then the main rival of the Corriere Della Sera, which today is instead published by the same editorial group of the Gazzetta. In fact, his newspaper, the Century, dominated Milanese information.
In the beginning, the interests of the Gazzetta focused on sports that today we could define secondary. Also because it was born by absorbing two previous newspapers dedicated both to cycling: the cyclist and the triplet.
Obviously, therefore, bicycles had a leading role in the newspaper’s publications, but ample space was initially reserved also for gymnastics, rowing, fencing and horse racing. The print run was however quite limited, given that it did not exceed 20,000 copies.
The first turning point came a few years later, in 1899. With the issue of January 2, in fact, the Gazzetta began to be printed on pink paper. This choice would become one of its distinctive features, so much so that even today the newspaper nicknamed the Rosea.
In that period, however, it was not yet a real newspaper, but rather a biweekly which, on the occasion of particular events, increased its number of issues.
In 1908 the periodicity then changed to three-weekly: the newspaper came out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And precisely in that period, with a momentum and a series of investments that symbolized growth by country, the Gazzetta announced the organization of the first Giro d’Italia.
A few years later, in 1913, the magazine Sport illustrated would arrive, which deepened the themes of the week with a large series of illustrations.
The golden age
However, it was mainly in the 1920s and 1930s that La Gazzetta Dello Sport became the first Italian sports newspaper, outperforming the competition of many other newspapers that came out in practically every region.
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Obviously in this period football began to make room for it, which was growing in the hearts of Italian fans. Since the war, however, other new sports began to find space, such as basketball, tennis, and swimming.
Throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the newspaper became a point of reference, also due to the presence of some very important brands, such as that of Gianni Brera. With her very particular prose and full of high and popular references, Brera changed the way of writing about sports.
The exponential growth of the Italian football championship and the successes of the national team from the 80s onwards dragged the sales of the newspaper, which at one point had more than 3 million readers throughout Italy. The European successes of Milan, Juventus, Inter Milan, and Napoli then pushed sales further up.
The Gazzetta today
It was only from that moment, due also to the competition of the internet and the proliferation of televisions that broadcast sports information at all hours, that the newspaper began to lose hits and above all readers.
In any case, La Gazzetta Dello Sport has tried to comply with this crisis by landing on the web, with a site that is still one of the most popular in Italy today. However, it also launched a series of other initiatives, such as supplements that enrich the products on newsstands.
For example, from 1995 to Saturday, the weekly Sports week comes out, dedicated to further information. In addition, in conjunction with Corriere Della Sera, necklaces of comics, DVDs and other works from far away in the world of sport have been sold for a long time.
Among the most significant directors, we must certainly mention Giuseppe Ambrosini, who led the magazine for 11 years after the war, Gualtiero Zanetti and especially Candido Cannavò, who dragged the newspaper to the successes of the 80s and 90s. The current director, since 2010, is Andrea Monti, already at Panorama, Oggi and GQ.
2. Corriere dello Sport – Stadium
The Gazzetta Dello Sport is without a doubt the best-selling sports newspaper in Italy, but its dominance is not uniform throughout the national territory. For example, in central and southern Italy this newspaper is felt to be very “Milanese”, more attentive to the teams from the north than those from the center-south.
Here, however, the presidency of the Corriere Dello Sport – Stadio, the second-largest newspaper in the sports sector, is stronger.
Its headquarters are in Rome and its current director is Ivan Zazzaroni, a Bolognese journalist well known for his frequent participation in television broadcasts.
The newspaper, however, has a very ancient history dating back to 1924, when it was founded in Bologna by a group of sports enthusiasts including Enzo Ferrari. In the beginning, this newspaper was also three times a week and had very little foliation.
In the hands of fascism
In 1927, however, the fascist party of Bologna, and in particular its leader Leandro Arpinati, bought the newspaper, renaming it the littoriale and making it in a certain sense the official sports newspaper of fascism.
The various state institutions began to support him, promoting competition against the freer and more rival Gazzetta Dello Sport. To differentiate itself from the latter, Il littoriale also gave ample space to all the minor sports, including for example boxing, which in those years began to grow in the interest of the public.
Furthermore, always in the fascist view of celebrating the glories of the regime, the headquarters of the newspaper was moved from Bologna to Rome. The objective was, on the one hand, to control it better and, on the other, to celebrate with greater emphasis on the successes of the teams in the capital.
After the fall of fascism, the newspaper returned to its original name of Corriere dello Sport and gradually began to regain its readers, with a modest but dignified circulation.
The merger with Stadio
It was especially in the 60s and 70s that it then began to spread more widely in southern Italy, dedicating space precisely to the southern teams. Among the main proponents of this rebirth was the journalist Giorgio Tosatti, who had entered the editorial staff while still very young.
To give Corriere Dello Sport a completely national diffusion, however, between 1976 and 1977 a merger was concluded with Stadio, a Bolognese newspaper that in a certain sense had collected the inheritance of Corriere Dello Sport in the Emilia area. Romagna.
The new newspaper renamed Corriere Dello Sport – Stadium, immediately proposed itself as a serious rival for the Gazzetta, reaching 750,000 copies, of which two-thirds sold in the center-south and one-third of the copies in the north.
The Courier today
Today the newspaper, while suffering, like all competitors, the crisis of the publishing market, maintains three editorial offices in addition to the Roman one: one in Bologna, one in Milan and one in Naples. It also invested heavily in its website, to try to rival La Gazzetta Dello Sport in that field too.
In addition to the aforementioned Tosatti, who directed the magazine for 10 years, and the current Zazzaroni, Italo Cucci, who led it twice in the 90s and 2000s, and Mario Sconcerti also deserve to be mentioned among the directors.
3. All sports
The third-largest Italian sports newspaper is Tuttosport, founded in Turin in 1945. Just the city of the north-west, on the other hand, represents an important unicum in the Italian sports scene.
Here, in fact, is home to the most titled, loved and envied football team of Italy, Juventus, which moves a large number of readers. But here also plays the Turin team, one of those that boast the most loyal fans.
In addition, the city has always been closely linked to motoring and therefore has always had a generally sporty, popular, warm disposition. This particular nature is also denoted by the newspaper on newsstands, which in all these years has been characterized above all by its proximity to typhus.
It is no coincidence that Tuttosport is the newspaper most loved by Juventus fans and the most parodied by anti-Juventus fans. Probably the fault of certain slightly sensational front pages that the newspaper has brought out in recent years, especially during market football.
This, however, is deliberately the stylistic code of Tuttosport. And it has been since the beginning.
The history of Tuttosport
He was born on the initiative of a journalist from Salerno, Renato Casalbore, who would later die in 1949 in the tragedy of Superga. He was initially a biweekly since he went out twice a week.
The success led him, however, already in 1946 to become a three-week. Paradoxically, however, the edition that sold the most was that of midweek, on Wednesday, because the caricatures of Carlo Bergoglio, perhaps the most famous sports designer of the time, found space in the newspaper.
Indeed, on that day of the week, a logo appeared with the writing ” Carlin Edition ” next to the magazine, due to the nickname with which Bergoglio signed his cartoons.
Since 1951, Tuttosport has been transformed into a daily newspaper, seeing the space dedicated to football progressively increase, as happened for all the other newspapers.
The newspaper today
Today, of course, he devotes a large part of his pages to Juventus and Turin. However, the other teams also find space inside, especially through the editorial offices of Rome, Milan and Genoa, and minor sports. Among these, Formula 1, basketball and tennis are particularly important.
In terms of recognition, it should be noted that in the early 2000s the newspaper established the European Golden Boy Award, which is awarded every year to the best Under 21 players of the European football teams.
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To vote is a jury made up of 30 journalists, who in recent years have been able to effectively identify the most interesting young people on the European football scene. For example, Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, Mario Balotelli, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappé, and many others have won this award.
The owner of the newspaper is the Nuova Editoriale Sportiva controlled by the Amodei family, which also controls the Corriere dello Sport . Gian Paolo Ormezzano, Gianni Minà and above all Xavier Jacobelli , who led him in the past and returned to office in 2018, should also be mentioned among the directors of the past .
4. The team
After talking at length about the Italian sports newspapers, let’s now take a quick look at what is published in the rest of Europe. To complete our five we have in fact chosen two newspapers which are probably the most prestigious outside Italy and in any case the best sellers.
The first is L’Équipe, French, which however does not have a very ancient history.
Unlike La Gazzetta dello Sport , with which, on the whole, it has a comparable circulation, L’Équipe was born later, in 1946 , after the Second World War. In reality, however, this date should not be too deceiving.
In fact, the newspaper was born on the ashes of a previous newspaper, L’Auto , founded in 1900 and creator of the Tour de France. The car came out not by chance on yellow paper and the jersey of the first in the standings during the Tour is based on the same color, according to the scheme that was then reproduced in Italy between the Gazzetta and the Giro.
After the war, after the Nazi occupation and various changes of the hand of the newspaper L’Auto, it was decided to re-found the newspaper. In fact, the newspaper had been compromised, if not properly with the Nazis, at least with the collaborators of Pétain. It risked complete purge.
Government authorization came on the condition that the newspaper changed its name and abdicated the use of the yellow card, so as not to appear too obviously as a descendant of L’Auto. Thus was born L’Équipe, which to date is the only French national sports newspaper.
From 1946 to 1984, the editor Jacques Goddet led the editorial team, formerly at the helm of L’Auto and patron of the Tour.
Volcanic personality, he was also the organizer of other very important cycling races such as Paris-Brussels and Paris-Roubaix. Some of his phrases have entered the history of cycling for nothing, such as “cycling is the most popular sport because you don’t pay a ticket”, or “Coppi the biggest, Merckx the strongest”.
Between Hanot and the present day
After its long management, various other directors followed, up to the current Francois Morinière, in office since 2008. Furthermore, since the 1980s the newspaper has also begun to publish magazines, dedicated to various insights also on the world of women’s sport. And in recent times he has also thrown himself on the web.
Among the many journalists who have written on these columns over the years, Gabriel Hanot deserves to be mentioned. Already a football player in the 10s, captain of the French national team, he was then a technical commissioner and journalist.
It was he – in the columns, however, of the weekly France Football – who created the Golden Ball award. He was also always, already in the 60s, to imagine that the Champions Cup would then evolve into a real European championship. From his idea, many years after his death, the current Champions League would be born.
The second foreign newspaper that we have chosen in the sports field is Marca, published in Madrid, Spain, since 1938. If you follow Spanish football, you know how important this sport is in that country, perhaps even more than it has us in Italy.
In addition, you also know about the great rivalry of the country’s two main cities and their teams. On the one hand there is Madrid, also a politically symbol of central power and the royal house, linked to moderate and conservative parties, represented by Real and to a lesser extent by Atlético.
On the other side is Barcelona , a very different city, which loves to always underline its diversity compared to the center of the country. And that sees in football precisely those differences and those differences that emerge in language, culture, politics.
Also in terms of sports journalism, therefore, in Spain the newspapers do not manage to be fully representative and to talk about football throughout the country, but are divided between Madrid and Catalan.
Marca and El Mundo Deportivo
Marca is the Madrid newspaper: inside, in fact, you find little space left to the Blaugrana and their businesses. His main rival is El Mundo Deportivo, a sports newspaper instead of Barcelona, which can be seen in the mirror as his exact counterpart.
Marca, however, sells a greater number of copies than El Mundo Deportivo and this is why we decided to talk about this newspaper, which has a very important circulation.
The number of copies sold, per se, is actually not very high, lower than L’Équipe and our Gazzetta Dello Sport. However, it is the number of readers that is impressive.
In fact, Marca is read virtually by Madrilenians in bars, clubs, and families, so much so that statistics say it is the most widely read newspaper in Spain, also beating numerous political and current affairs newspapers.
From the Civil War
As we have said, it was founded in 1938, in the middle of the Spanish Civil War. In reality, its first location was not Madrid but San Sebastián, which at that time had already been taken by the nationalists.
Later he moved to Madrid but always remained tied to the central power, which for a long time was in the hands of Francisco Franco, the winner of the civil war. From weekly, it also became a newspaper in 1942 and gradually acquired greater importance.
Very close to Real Madrid, it has also been at the center of some controversies over the years. The most important of these was the one that saw the then Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, in 2008, who accused the newspaper of working on behalf of Real, in an attempt to influence market negotiations.
Those were the months in which Real was also trying to buy Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester.
Awards and publisher
Beyond all this, however, Marca has also won numerous awards for graphics in recent years. And he is responsible for the two most important trophies that are awarded individually to the players of the Spanish league.
The first is the Pichichi Trophy, which is given to the top scorer of the Liga. The second is the Zamora Trophy, which is won by the goalkeeper who has conceded fewer goals in the championship.
The current editor of the newspaper is L’Unidad Editorial, a group that also owns El Mundo, magazines and various websites. However, the group is controlled by RCS, the Italian publishing group which also owns Corriere Della Sera and La Gazzetta Dello Sport.
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