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Italian sports bodies reiterate stadium plea to government

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and Lega Serie A have written a letter to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi to address the issues surrounding stadium development in the country.

In December, the three bodies sent a letter to then-Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Minister of Economy Roberto Gualtieri, Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora and Minister of Cultural Heritage Dario Franceschini to discuss the “difficult moment” Italian football is facing and the “backwardness” of infrastructure projects within the sport.

The new letter to Draghi invites the Prime Minister to look at the “critical conditions” facing sports venues in Italy. The letter has been signed by CONI president Giovanni Malagò, FIGC president Gabriele Gravina and Lega Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino.

The letter stated: “The sports infrastructures in our country are in decidedly critical conditions and represent, in fact, a brake on the development and growth of the system as a whole. However, what we find even more regrettable, if not harmful, is the continuing insecurity on the procedures in question that conditions and discourages any investment in the sector.”

The original letter pointed out that Italy was behind England, Germany and Spain in a number of areas, including average revenues from fans and the number of new stadiums built in the last 20 years.

The new letter specifically cited Serie A club Fiorentina’s plans for a new stadium. In January, Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso slammed a ruling from Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBACT) that stated the Stadio Artemio Franchi (pictured) could not be demolished or undergo a major redevelopment due to its historic status.

The decision marked the latest blow to Fiorentina’s long-held ambitions to either redevelop the Franchi or move to a new stadium in Tuscany. The letter from Lega Serie A, CONI and the FIGC said that projects such as Fiorentina’s “risk being thwarted by the exasperating bureaucracy and the self-defeating obstruction of associations that do not recognise the legitimacy of the procedures established by law”.

The letter added: “It is our intention to involve the Government in a plan for the redevelopment of sports facilities, perhaps even finding specific recognition in the upcoming Recovery Plan, which will allow Italy to get closer to European standards. A new generation of stadiums would, in fact, bring immediate benefits, especially in terms of employment, and would be a great driver for the economy of our country.”

Parma is another Serie A club with a stadium project currently in the pipeline and the team recently selected architecture firm Studio Zoppini to redesign its Stadio Enni Tardini. Elsewhere, AS Roma’s plans for a new stadium in the Tor di Valle neighbourhood were recently dropped following a change in ownership at the club, while cross-city rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan have plans for a new stadium on the site of the historic San Siro.

Image: Sailko/CC BY 3.0/Edited for size