Racism and bankruptcy in Italian football


Good Wednesday my dears, this week I’d like to talk about the current state of Italian football and especially the calamitous situation FC Parma find themselves into.

The Club once challenging us for the Cup Winners’ Cup in Copenhagen. – and my hometown Club, by the way – is now on the verge of a second bankruptcy and one signature away from being canceled from professional football.
How sad could it be? Not much, if I am honest.
I’ll tell you why later on.

But let’s start from the latest scandal related to racism occurred in Italy.

After incidents involving Mario Balotelli and the election of Carlo Tavecchio – a man who said that too many foreign players were eating bananas one day and play in the Serie A the next day – at the head of Italian FA, , another unneeded disgraceful episode has hit Italian football.
Former AC Milan, Italy National team and FC Parma head coach as well as Real Madrid director Arrigo Sacchi has candidly declared to the press that youth teams in Italy are fielding too many “colored” players nowadays.

It’s utterly disgusting, isn’t it?

I’m still in shock; a man of his intelligence just can’t have said anything like that.


He’s been one of the most inspired, innovative coaches Italy had in the past 50 years, and he created one of the most decorated team Italy and Europe have ever seen. With players like Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit were the stars – yet he states that the reason for Italian football’s seemingly unstoppable decline is the fact that too many foreigners are playing at youth level.

I totally believe his good faith, and I am 100% sure he’s not a racist. However, his comments are simply inadmissible.

It might sound silly, but I am tempted to say that, to a certain extent, he is right. I’m quite sure he meant that we, Italians, are often excessively attracted by foreign names – that seem to sound better than Italian ones.

I’m completely against any discrimination and racism in football and life. It is a matter of fact that young Italian footballers are given less time and fewer opportunities to break through – especially at big Clubs.

Arrigo Sacchi should know that this is only one of the multiple problems affecting football in Italy and not the most damaging.
Arrigo Sacchi is entirely missing the point here: Football belongs to talented players, no matter where they come from. A concept Arsène Wenger has always defended with ardor; Italian football is suffering from a blatant lack of education and strategy – its decline is clearly not down to a kind of invasion of foreign players.

Instead of having a host of coaches with vision and skills required to develop young players, whether they are Italians or not. Give them time to do that, many Italian Clubs prefer to buy wholesale and let the most skilled players emerge from the bunch.

Not big Clubs, apparently, because they prefer to wait and see who are the most promising and lure them away from their smaller Clubs.

In a way you will discover reading this blog, FC Parma is thoroughly implicated in the system that has led to Arrigo Sacchi grotesque comments and are paying the highest price for being part of that, at the same time.

Current FC Parma and former Udinese general director Pietro Leonardi is a man who spent his career building this vicious system – that is both reducing young Italian footballers’ opportunities and led his current employer to the inevitable.

His strategy has always been to buy as many young, promising players as possible, from all over the world, and hope to find the real gem, whose sale will bring money that will be re-invested in new young players from the five continents; he undoubtedly has found some great talents during his career – players like Fabio Borini, Gabriel Paletta, Gökhan Inlet, Asamoah and a sure Alexis Sanchez – but the problem is that he concluded an astonishing 300+ deals to bring players in during his tenures at Udinese and FC Parma.

I’ll let you figure out the percentage of Alexis Sanchez’s compared to the Toni Calvo’s who got lost in consecutive loan spells and finally be released.

That has a cost, in terms of fees and wages; if you don’t pull the magic, then you are in big troubles.
Pietro Leonardi recently lost his magic touch, apparently, and FC Parma are going to be declared bankrupt.
Bye bye, once glorious FC Parma.

Instead or choosing the correct, although long and complicated, way, Italians once again seem to want to obtain the maximum result with the minimum effort. Those coaches who raised players like Maldini, Buffon, Inzaghi, Nesta, Del Piero and Pirlo have seen their budget cut-off by Clubs, who prefer to spend the same amount of money to buy a parcel of players and hope they picked the good lot.

When it doesn’t work – and it’s clearly not working at all, at the moment – they don’t blame themselves, they blame foreigners.

It’s way easier.

This is the main problem Italy has, in my opinion: being unable to take the blame and go back to square one.

It must be said that, unfortunately for world football, we are not alone in our madness.

Alan Pardew once said, “It’s important that top clubs don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s the English Premier League, and English players should be involved.” Which is what Arrigo Sacchi meant – although in better wording – and the French Football Federation was hit by a scandal when a confidential discussion about introducing limits to the number of black or Arab players being involved in the national team was made public by the media.

Whatever is the country you live in, there will always be foreigners to blame for your failure.

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