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Clay court

The curious tale of Fabio Fognini's shoe


Would you spend nearly six months to try to sell a single tennis shoe for 20 euros? No? Nor me. So perhaps times are particularly hard in Chile for one man has spent half a year doing just that.

When Fernando Gonzalez retired against Fabio Fognini in the second rubber of the 2011 Davis Cup World Group play-off, the Italian celebrated his country’s 2-0 lead by throwing all his kit, shoes and all, into the crowd. It didn’t cause as much distress as the Novak Djokovic tee-shirt incident in Melbourne last month but it did end up in an auction. A never-ending auction.

The day Cristian Rojo landed his precious trophy must have been one of joy and laughter. He probably spent the evening drinking and celebrating with friends and drifted to sleep, dreaming about the money he could get out of the Fognini relic. The following day, he asked his mother to take a good photograph of the bright red Adidas shoe and then placed an advert on Mercado Libre, the Chilean equivalent of eBay, before sitting back in satisfaction to watch the bids roll in.

But it seems Fognini, a pint-sized Italian ranked 53 (he has been as high as 32) does not have the pulling power, of, say David Beckham. Or even Victoria Beckham. Days went by without any offer for what apparently looked like a good deal, at least for those familiar with currencies. Some of you may not be aware that the only difference between the American dollar and the Chilean peso is a thin straight vertical line that crosses the S in the middle: the dollar has two of them, the peso just one. Easy to get confused.

So when the news of Fognini’s Davis Cup shoe reached Italy, the first reaction was ‘who on earth would pay $60,000 dollars for a stinky shoe?’. It was soon clear that we were talking about not more than 100 euros but the curiosity remained.

Tweets went by advertising the deal but the shoe remained unsold. The original 60,000 quickly became 45,000, then 30,000 and then 20,000 but nobody dared to secure the precious item. Rojo began to fear that his investment would prove to be a rip off and started to randomly tweet people illustrating the marvellous object, even stumbling on a Potito Starace fan, who is followed by Fognini and getting a retweet from the Italian himself.

But even that didn’t help and the sale price kept coming down. People showed interest now and then (we learned that Fognini is a 9½ and that Rojo has a video that proves the shoe is Fognini’s). We also learned that Rojo spent quite some time searching on the internet for a left shoe to match the right so he could keep the pair.

Some punters couldn’t help but mock him, offering to trade the shoe with a David Beckham one but that wasn’t going to cut it for Rojo. Ten days ago things seemed on the verge of a conclusion with one offer of 10,000 pesos but something must have gone wrong. The shoe is still there, waiting for someone to rescue it.

It could be yours.


Follow Enrico Maria Riva on Twitter: @enricomariariva

  • Scambers

    I just checked and it’s still there – on offer for 15,000 but no takers yet! Good story!