Italian Football TV is Growing Calcio in the United States

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Italian Football TV

When Marco Messina woke up on Sunday mornings as a child he’d watch Serie A’s Game of the Week in hopes that one day he’d play in Italy’s top division.

The Italian-American grew up in New York City and his Azzurri ancestry made it nearly impossible to not fall in love with calcio, as the sport of football is commonly referred to in Italy.

The young entrepreneur is now the face of Italian Football TV, a project Messina launched over a decade ago in an attempt to help cover calcio and bring better awareness to Serie A in the United States and across the world.

Messina had always dreamt of becoming a professional footballer, like many in the youth ranks, and he even had the chance to compete at the prestigious Viareggio Cup in Italy as a teenager.

The list of players that have made a name for themselves at the youth competition over the years is astounding, with players like Francesco Totti, Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon having all gone on to have incredibly successful careers for both club and country.

Despite hanging up his competitive boots, Messina’s attachment to calcio in comparison to some of Europe’s other top leagues has made IFTV one of the leading Italian football outlets stateside.

“Like any young fan of the game I think we always want to become players, right?” Messina told ONE37pm. “It’s part of the dream and you’re closing your eyes celebrating that goal at the San Siro or wherever you are.

“I was in college actually working in real estate at the time and on the side I had come up with the concept of Italian Football TV. It was definitely a tough balance and I remember coming home one Sunday after working and I had missed all the Serie A games that day.

“And I’m thinking to myself about how I didn’t get to watch any game or tweet about what was going on. It was also the day I got paid though and I’m looking at my paycheck and holding all this money but I was still mad.

“It was that moment when it clicked for me and I knew that I had to take a chance on myself and make IFTV my full-time job because if I kept going down my path I was never going to have that opportunity again.”

That led to Messina and his best friend, Mike Kantaris, devoting their attention to their project, which has consisted of creating unique Serie A-based content across all social media platforms for the last five-plus years.

After steadily growing a semi-used Twitter page that Messina had created in high school, IFTV now consists of an Instagram page that features 150,000-plus followers as well as a YouTube account with 53,000-plus subscribers.

IFTV’s podcast and live shows have also become a significant talking point for Messina and his regular contributors, who oftentimes get impassioned in their calcio discussions and sometimes lead to viral moments.

During Euro 2020, Italy’s run to the final and eventual title after defeating England on penalty kicks saw Messina burst into tears on IFTV’s live stream and he believes the raw emotion and authenticity of his project are why he’s become so successful.

“Looking back on that moment I can’t even watch some of the clips any more because it looks so bad to me,” Messina said with a smile. “At the end of the day sports are more than a religion to a lot of people and I think that’s why we’re so relatable to our audience.

“It certainly helped this summer with the Italian team because they were underdogs to many and we really got to see the team grow throughout the competition.”

Over the years, IFTV’s brand has seen significant growth as major public figures become more and more aware of the company’s vision and importance for Italian football.

In 2019, Messina and IFTV received a message from a member of David Beckham’s team saying how much the former Man United player enjoys their content.

Messina thought it was a joke, but realized if it wasn’t there could be a huge window of opportunity for IFTV.

“I completely thought it wasn’t David,” Messina said. “But then I thought more and was like we can send some merchandise. It’s 100 dollars. It’s not the end of the world.

“A few weeks later, I got a message from the same person saying ‘We’re about to take off. Let me know if you receive this picture.’

“So Mike and I are sitting there staring at our phones waiting for this picture to load. We literally dropped everything we were doing and sure enough it’s a photo of David [Beckham] wearing our merch.”

Meanwhile, Messina was even recently named to CBS Sports’ on-air Serie A coverage as a television analyst, joining Jo Ankier, Matteo Bonetti and Andres Cordero in the network’s studio coverage.

“I want to help represent the super Serie A fan in all of us and make sure that the fans' voices are heard,” Messina tweeted on August 19. “I want to hear your comments, feedback and thoughts on everything happening in Serie A. My goal is to make sure we’re all represented & it's what I’m looking forward to most.”

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