Tuesday, 6 February 2007

where to now for Italian football?

ok the dust has settled a little and I can face talking about what may or may not happen next. Though once again there's an inordinate amount to be said so it may take a few posts over a few days.

First it goes without saying that all sorts of knee-jerk reactionary crap has been spouted right left and centre by people serving their own agendas. Likewise tasteless and insensitive remarks have not been lacking, nor a desire by some to sweep everything under the carpet and forget about Inspector Raciti and the entire situation. After all, too much delay, too much change and we might LOSE SOME MONEY!!! *shocked gasp*

Just so you know, here are the major players: CONI (Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano, or the Italian Olympic Committee) are the overall governing body of all sport in Italy. FIGC (Federazione Italiana Gioco Calcio, also sometimes abbreviated to Federcalcio) is the Italian FA, currently headed by Luca Pancalli, who was appointed as extraordinary commissioner to clean up after Calciopoli, and with former player and Cagliari legend Gigi Riva as his vice. The League is connected to but independent from FIGC, and is currently headed by Antonio Matarrese (though not perhaps for much longer). The Italian professional footballer's association is called AIC, the Associazione Italiana Calciatori. Other key players are Giovanna Melandri, Minister for Sport and Giuliano Amato, Minister of the Interior.

Yesterday meetings were held between CONI and FIGC officials with Melandri and Amato, and today Amato has been speaking to parliament, announcing initial measures decided yesterday. COnfusion alrady reigns since different parties to yesterday's meetings have made slightly different announcements on what was decided.... *sigh*

So initial unity on the suspension of all games didn't last long. After the weekend's halt it now looks as though matches may resume next weekend. Wait, not so fast. The first thing to do, it has been decided, is to make sure that the last piece of legislation on stadium security is fully enforced. This is the famous and incredibly unpopular Pisanu decree. Giuseppe Pisanu, an ancient Sardinian politician once of the Christian Democrats, Berlusconi's Minister of the Interior 2002-2006 and now a Forza Italia senator, introduced this spectacularly badly conceived and inadequatley drafted law two years ago in a well-intentioned but hopeless attempt to tackle some of these problems.

As well as nominative tickets for all games, prohibition of racist chants, new more vigorous banning orders etc the terms of the decree laid down that all stadia must have electronic turnstiles, and further a fenced area outside the stadium at a distance of some few hundred metres to prevent ticketless fans from even approaching the turnstiles. Double entry ticket checking, if you will. Now, only 4 stadia, even today, comply with these criteria: the Olimpico in Rome (Roma and Lazio), the Olimpico in Turin (Torino and Juve whilst the Delle Alpi is rebuilt this season), the Renzo Barbera in Palermo and (somewhat oddly) the Artemio Franchi in Siena. The San Siro is perhaps the most glaring absence from that list, of course, but it means that nationwide there's a lot to be done. When you read 'only 4 stadia in Italy are up to safety regulations' it mostly refers to the turnstile/ outer area issue, not to necessarily to anything else. Bear in mind UEFA wouldn't approve European matches if they were actually unsafe by UEFA standards. Though other problems with entrances & exits do exist, of course.

Why have all stadia not been brought into line with the Pisanu regulations? or indeed doen up any way - many are crumbling, shoddy, with ancient ruined seating and inadequate toilet & catering facilities. Well because they're owned by the local councils, who can't afford to do them up, whilst the clubs who could afford to do so have no incentive to spend money on an asset they don't own. Ever since the Pisanu decree, all stadia which have been declared safe for public assmebly but which don't meet the decree's specifications have been granted temporary dispensations on a week by week basis. I kid you not.

So the stadia in Verona, Bergamo, Ascoli, Udine and (surprise surprise) Catania are all completely failing to meet current requirements. At Catania there is ONE entrance for the entire home curva, this is clearly fantastically dangerous. In any case, the stadium there is still a crime scene under police control, and is liable to stay shut until at least June no matter what happens. Then there's a middle ground of 'acceptable' stadia but where work still needs to be done, at Cagliari, Messina, Reggio Calabria, Genova, Parma and Empoli, and finally at Livorno, Florence and the San Siro work is underway evern as we speak.

The plan is to resume matches this weekend but behind closed doors where standards are unacceptable: that rules out the first 5, the others are to be inspected and the discretion of local prefects and police guidance to rule whether or not they can be used. Only the 4 fully regular stadia can count on being able to continue to host games in front of their fans as usual.

But as ever it's not so straightforward. Some people are shocked at the resumption so soon, not least after the president of AIC called for a year's halt. It is proposed to permit up to 10,000 fans into the 'irregular' stadia. But what to do then at, for instance, Napoli, whose San Paolo stadium is a crumbling wreck which fails to meet not only the turnstile rules but many basic safety laws... but where there are at least 20,000 season ticket holders?? I can't see the clubs coughing up money to refund them. Who is going to financially recompense clubs for lost revenue if they are forced to play behind closed doors, because their local council hasn't done up the stadium whilst the council od the city up the road has done and so the club's bitter rivals are playing as normal and no extra cost?

As might be expected the League and the Clubs are up in arms. Matarrese has already made a massive arse of himself by declaring publicly that 'deaths are a part of the football system... the show must go on.' Oh. My. God. No, you gigantic arsehole deaths are NOT a part of football, neither the deaths of fans nor the deaths of policemen, and the 'show' is never going to be as important as HUMAN LIFE. Jesus Christ. Of course Amato and many others including Palermo chairman Zamparini are calling for Matarrese's resignation but he has refused, as yet, to resign or to apologise.

But it does, at the moment, look as though we may start up again on Sunday. Whether that means we'll return to play last week's fixtures or skip a week and add them on at the end of the season no-one knows. As for the medium and long-term measures to be taken, they're for another post.


socioweb said...

Leggi il mio commento su Matarrese: clicca e vedi!

Martha said...

Awesome post, thanks for taking the time to go into some of the specifics of the stadia situation.

Also, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, the games scheduled for this coming weekend will be played as usual, with the postponed slate moved to Feb 14.

mademoiselle sand said...

so, football, nice. yay football &c

guess how women in marsabit are raising money to pay their kids school fees and build houses for themselves?


egg pasta. tagliatelle, to be precise. it's pretty tasty.

the pasta making chicks said an italian lady came two years ago and showed them how to make it. they can't remember her name.

what I want to ask is, were you the lady that showed them how?

don't lie about it


martinobhoy said...

A well written and informative post. Cheers.

I think calcio was always likely to start up again sooner rather than later despite the talk of an indefinite halt. However your post raises the interesting question of stadiums that do not belong to the team.

Spangly Princess said...

Grazie socioweb me ne vado a vederlo subito.

Looks that way, Martha, which I find incredible really. I mean, on a slefish level, it works out nicely since it doesn't screw up my weekend. But frankly, that couldn't be less important.

Mlle Sand, if only I went around the world like a fairy godmother of tagliatelle teaching women how to make a decent carbohydrate based living. That would be great. Hope you're having fun. Incidentally, my grandmother has a thing about Georges Sand.

Martino, you old flatterer. More to come when I have a minute.

a herring said...

The Gazzetta says that last week's games are to be rescheduled for 17/18 April (with the Roma/Inter cup semi to be a few days before the final) and that other games will follow the existing schedule from next weekend.

Of course, that's not to say that nothing's going to change between now and the weekend...

jimhancot said...

Top stuff, SP. Cheers for keeping me (and hopefully many other interested onlookers) well-informed. I look forward to the follow-ups, eg where does Italian football go from here?

Keep up the excellent work


codazzo said...

i'm quite curious to see how this evolves..

btw, matarrese is from freaking where-i'm-from Andria. I found out on wikipedia :/
that's one more fellow citizen to be ashamed of -_-

Anonymous said...

Excellent summary Spangly, cheers.


TrentToffee said...

A great article. Very informative about the generally poor state of the Stadia. If nobody *owns* the stadiums then nobody gives a f*ck. What will it take ? Another Ibrox (1971) before they're brought up to scratch.