Soccer: Italian football must reform to stop slide, say Juve

Game in Italy is at a 'crossroads' says chairman Agnelli

Soccer: Italian football must reform to stop slide, say Juve

Turin, October 26 - Italian soccer needs major reforms if Serie A is to halt the decline it is currently experiencing, Juventus Chairman Andrea Agnelli said on Friday. Italian teams were the strongest in European competition in the late 1980s and 1990s but, apart from Inter Milan's Champions League victory in 2010, they have struggled in continental action in recent years. Indeed, this year only three Italian teams were admitted into the Champions League, rather than four in previous years, after Serie A was overtaken by Germany's Bundesliga in the rankings of European soccer's governing body UEFA. Italian soccer has been hit by hooliganism and two big match-fixing scandals over the past six years, the second of which is still developing. Many of the country's soccer stadiums, most of which are owned by local authorities rather than the clubs' themselves, are in a poor state due to lack of investment. "Today, Italian football finds itself at a crossroads," Agnelli told a meeting of the Serie A champions' shareholders. "After the great successes of the last 30 years, today we're seeing a rapid decline which shows no sign of abating. "Its development model is impeded by several factors which perfectly reflect the crisis the country is currently experiencing. "I have no doubt over which will be the most popular Italian football club in 20 years. Juventus will still have millions of fans and there will still be black and white scarves in football stadiums. "But which stadiums? We all need to ask ourselves what Italian football will have become in a few years' time. "Many countries have experienced a footballing decline but none have had such a rapid descent. "We are faced with a structural collapse which cannot simply be put down to the economic crisis. "Club presidents, the media and followers of football in general ask if we support X or Y candidate to run the Serie A League or the Italian Soccer Federation. "However, no one is asking how these important positions should be carried out". Juve, who spent a year in Serie B and were stripped of two Italian league titles for involvement in the 2006 Calciopoli match-fixing scandal, became the first Serie A club to have their own ground when they opened their new stadium in Turin last year.

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