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Addio: What Has Happened To Italian Football?

October 29, 2015

- Grant Whittington

Over the past fifteen years it has been sad to see that Italian football’s top division, the Serie A, has been in decline. Since the turn of the millennium the league that was once leading the world in excitement and entertainment and real footballing passion is a mere shade of its past glory. During the 80’s and 90’s the league was filled with notable football stars that have since become legends and the quality of football that was being enjoyed week after week in the league was almost incomparable.

The Serie A has attracted an endless number of incredible and memorable players throughout the years. Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Baggio, Gianfranco Zola, Ruud Gullit, Ronaldo and Francesco Totti are just scraping the surface of past greats who have graced the world renowned league with their talent. But now the league has sunk to Europe’s fourth ranked division according to the UEFA coefficients table it does make you wonder where it all went wrong.

Back in 1990 when Italy hosted the World Cup there was plenty of money flying around that was sunk into various stadiums across the country. The problem is that many stadia in Italy at the time were not even owned by the clubs themselves which led to many of them becoming greatly neglected years later. Clubs were becoming heavily reliant on generating money and revenue via TV deals as opposed to other sources of sponsorship. They were missing out compared to other leagues and clubs across Europe and new sponsors and other avenues of revenue were turning their attentions to other major leagues leaving the Italian division pinning all their hopes simply on fan loyalty.

This held the league in good stead for a while however in 2006 when details and rumours of potential match fixing deals had taken place in the league that loyalty was beginning to thin. After investigations had shown that a number of clubs in the Serie A, most notably AC Milan, Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio, had all been involved in some form of coercion with league referees they all received various penalties however it was the reputation of the league that was most affected.

The controversy greatly overshadowed many of the divisions top players parting company with the league around the same time and it wasn’t exactly as if big talent from around the world was lining up ready to head to the Serie A to make up for the shortfall. The Spanish and English clubs were beckoning and when French star Zinedine Zidane left Juventus in 2001 it was seen as the beginning of the end for the league. For Italian sides to claw their way back to past successes and re-establish ties with wavering support from their now somewhat sceptical fans will definitely prove challenging.

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