Italian football is still struggling to get back on its feet. While the amount of money spent on transfers has increased (Serie A was the second-highest spending league this summer behind the Premier League) and the games are enjoyable (2.44 goals on average each game), results in Europe are a long way off what is desired.
Failing to qualify for another World Cup, Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph and Roma‘s Europa Conference League win seem insignificant. No Italian team has won the Champions League since Inter‘s 2010 treble.
Juventus have lost two Champions League finals since and Inter have lost a Europa League final.
Italian clubs have once again started poorly in Europe. Although the schedule was challenging, neither Inter nor Juventus were able to manage against Bayern Munich and PSG respectively. Only two teams – Lazio and Napoli – of Italy’s seven recorded wins.
A problem at grassroots level
“What happened against Macedonia (in the World Cup play-offs) is what has been happening with Italian clubs for 12 years,” said Arrigo Sacchi a few months ago.
“We haven’t won anything in Europe since 2010, the European Championship was a magnificent exception. We keep buying foreigners for the clubs and the youth sectors are full of foreigners.”
However, despite the fact that the Italian youth teams participate in nearly all international youth competitions, the standout young players never make the transition to the professional ranks.
It is uncommon, unless there are exceptional circumstances, to see a player move directly from the Primavera into the first team. The few young players that currently stand out in the top clubs include Davide Calabria, Fabio Miretti, Nicola Zalewski, or Caleb Okoli.
The youth players have to endure countless loans in Serie B or Serie C.
Stadiums from the 20th century
Italy wanted to host the 2032 European Championship until Aleksander Ceferin hit them with the harsh reality.
“EURO 2032? Italy does not have a stadium that can host a Champions League final. Juventus Stadium or Udine Stadium are okay for a Europa League final. For the rest it is impossible,” he said.
Only Juventus, Udinese, Atalanta, and Sassuolo have club-owned stadiums in Serie A, which results in interminable bureaucratic procedures whenever an infrastructure change is desired.
The new San Siro is the clearest illustration. It took countless discussions, initiatives, and millions of dollars from both teams before building could even be planned. Furthermore, it doesn’t appear like it will begin anytime soon.
Trying to copy the Premier League model…
The entry of foreign money into English football was one of the major factors in the development of the Premier League as we know it today.
The strongest clubs in England were acquired by owners from all over the world, who also introduced new perspectives to the Premier League.
Italian football has since adopted that concept. There are also many foreign owners in the lower divisions (Serie B or Serie C). Investing in Serie A is encouraged by the inexpensive clubs and the league’s potential.
Bureaucracy prevents the adoption of any ideas (all foreign owners want a new stadium, but…). If it’s not that, a Lega Serie A meeting occasionally results in altercations amongst club owners.
Additionally, there is a stalemate regarding Serie A TV rights. Italian football is becoming almost a breeding ground for the considerably wealthier English clubs due to an almost humiliating contrast with the Premier League.
How can we demand that they compete in Europe if the bottom team in the Premier League makes more money each season than the Serie A champions?