(Reuters) – Italy’s Serie A is at risk of insolvency and needs more financial support from the government during the pandemic as well as stadiums at higher capacity, according to Inter Milan chief executive Giuseppe Marotta.
In an interview with Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Marotta said that the country’s political institutions could no longer ignore the financial plight of Italian soccer.
“It is a system at the edge of the abyss, which without a doubt had already issues before COVID but which has received virtually no support in these two years in the pandemic,” he said.
Marotta is also a member of the federal board of the Italian football association (FIGC) representing Serie A. A spokesperson at the Italian FA told Reuters that they do not usually comment on statements made by board members.
Serie A clubs had agreed unanimously earlier this month to cut stadium capacity to 5,000 for two rounds of matches to help curb COVID-19 cases, but Marotta urged all stakeholders to allow more spectators now.
Italy put off matches and closed stadiums soon after COVID-19 reached the country at the start of 2020 and has kept stadiums at a limited capacity of up to 50% ever since it started lifting restrictions.
“Outdoor facilities are without a doubt safe with FFP2 masks, super green pass and capacity reduced to 50%. Cutting tickets to 5,000 spectators has been further proof of taking things seriously and another sacrifice for us,” he said.
“If France is getting ready to welcome 100% supporters, like it is already happening in England, does it make sense for us to stick to a lower number (of spectators)?”
The former Juventus CEO added that the football industry does not get as much financial aid as other industries because it is not taken seriously.
“Football is still considered the world of ‘rich and stupid’ presidents who waste money away for fun,” he said. “Our world struggles to be recognised for what it is but how can you ignore the fact that professional soccer is an industry like any other?”
(Reporting by Silvia Recchimuzzi in Gdansk; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Toby Davis)