Having spent a lot of his time on another planet, Sepp would be better placed than most to judge. And the proposition has hardly been lost on the restless folk at the Premier League, who have surely spent the past months researching how viable it might be to take their desired 39th game even further afield than initially hoped.
But would the interest be there? Is the little green boy, as Harry and co might soon be calling him, over the moon about sport?
Well. The reliable folk who type up the internet have provided us with ample evidence that the audience for major sporting events is wider than anybody thought.
Looking at the pictures online, we can take it for granted that diminutive, hovering invaders in 14-inch white orbs took close interest in an NFL clash of the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers a few years ago.
More cheapskate extraterrestrials watched New Orleans Saints v Indianapolis Colts in 2011 from some class of well-lit craft that alarmed TV viewers.
While the British Ministry of Defence’s UFO Department assure us that a policeman sighted unexplained visitors over Stamford Bridge a few seasons ago.
But the most prominent entry in sport’s X-files happened 60 years ago yesterday when opposition analysts from nearby rivals began a scouting mission for any potential interplanetary tournament with a visit to Serie A contenders Fiorentina, who were just embarking on a golden era.
The match — a reserve team clash between the Tuscany giants and local rivals Pistoiese, had attracted 10,000 fans. Early in the second half, La Viola were leading 6-2 when the watching visitors must have edged too close, probably bemused at a scoreline that didn’t reflect coach Fulvio Bernardini’s Catenaccio beliefs.
Defender Ardico Magnini, who played in the match, as well as for Italy in that summer’s World Cup, took up the story in a recent interview with the BBC.
“It was something that looked like an egg that was moving slowly, slowly, slowly. Everyone was looking up and also there was some glitter coming down from the sky, silver glitter. We were astonished. We had never seen anything like it before. We were absolutely shocked.”
Other eye-witnesses described clouds of smoke, unusual sounds, and three waves of more than 20 objects, some with wings and others in the standard-issue UFO disc shape. Paying spectators grew agitated too, and amid the growing panic, the referee stopped the game.
Naturally, interest and alarm at the unexplained phenomenon wasn’t so great that the ref didn’t restart the match 10 minutes later, but the Fiorentina players, so adept at finding space, remain certain space found them.
“In those years, everybody was talking about aliens, everybody was talking UFOs and we had the experience, we saw them, we saw them directly, for real,” said Romolo Tuci, also talking to the BBC.
He was unlikely to play the event down, given his job as president of Italy’s National UFO Centre, but Roberto Pinotti backs the players. “At the time the newspapers spoke of aliens from Mars. Of course now we know that is not so — but we may conclude that it was an intelligent phenomenon, a technological phenomenon and a phenomenon that cannot be linked with anything we know on Earth.”
The glittery falling substance — labelled ‘angel hair’ — was tested at the University of Florence and found to contain boron, silicon, calcium and magnesium but no radioactive properties.
Despite many rational theories being proposed since, from breaking meteors to migrating spiders, the apparition remains one of Italy’s enduring mysteries. Whatever it was, the episode served to inspire rather than intimidate Fiorentina, who romped to the Scudetto by 12 points the following season. Tuci was just pleased to have seen the future six decades ahead of Sepp: “I was spellbound and I was also so, so happy.”