In 1933 Istrian footballer Bruno Scher had his debut in Italian Serie A, playing for AS Bari.
At that time he was 25 years old, he had played in secondary leagues, but many people thought he was going to have a career in football, especially for his strong shot, good header and excellent physical prowess.
A promising start
His first nine matches in the best Italian division were good. Even being a midfielder, Scher didn’t lack the sense of goal, indeed he had already been able to score twice, against Palermo and Genova, the name that fascist regime had imposed on Genoa CFC during its foreign words annihilation campaign.
Well informed people started to talk about an interest of a big northern Italy club for Scher, maybe Ambrosiana Inter, that was another team renamed by fascism, in this case for political reasons: “Internazionale FC” sounded too leftist for Mussolini.
Anyway, even Italy’s coach Vittorio Pozzo was looking at him, because Istria had become a part of the Kingdom of Italy at the end of the Great War, so Bruno Scher was summonable for the light blue selection.
Suddenly a career stops
But then something happened. After those nine good matches Scher was put on the bench and never played in Serie A for AS Bari again. Technical option? No. Once more the problem was linguistics. In this case: his surname, too exotic for fascist Italy. The same thing was happening to other footballers, like Luigi Colausig who accepted the decision and became Colaussi. Somebody suggested Scher to change it, he only needed to add an “i”, and to modify it in Scheri, so that it would have seemed more Italian. But he refused. He was proud of his Istrian origin, and moreover he had always been known to be an antifascist. His career stopped.
A degradation in the “antifascist ghetto” of Lucchese
Bari sold him in the third league to US Lucchese (in the city of Lucca, Tuscany), a team with more dissident footballers, such as goalkeeper Aldo Magic Cat Olivieri, the future partisan Bruno Neri, and the anarchist Libero Marchini. But Lucchese, surprisingly, under the guidance of Jewish Hungarian coach Ernő Erbstein (who will afterwards coach the Great Torino) in 3 years climbed to Serie A, and then the surname of Scher became a problem again. The proud Istrian refused to change his name for the second time, and again he ended in the third division.
After the war, alone and broke, Scher was helped only by his friend and former teammate Olivieri, who called him to be his vice in coaching Triestina. Scher died at the end of the 70s, almost forgotten.
Bruno Scher gave up his career in football not to betray his political ideas and his origins. Can you tell some players nowadays, or from more recent years, that jeopardized their career to support a political fight? Which are the differences of context between fascist Italy in the 30s of the last century and the examples you have in mind?