Daniele De Rossi believes the hostility between fans in Italy is one of a number of issues that is holding Serie A back.
On Tuesday, the Roma vice-captain was seated next to Antonio Candreva, of bitter rivals Lazio, for a press conference on a day when Pope Francis had called on footballers to act as role models for society.
The two players were there to represent Italy ahead of the friendly with Argentina at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday evening, but the harmony the pair displayed is confined to their spells with the national team.
The chances of a joint press conference prior to the first Eternal City derby of the season are slim given the mutual loathing between the capital clubs, and De Rossi feels that attitude is just one of several problems faced by Italian football.
“Italian football is a long way behind compared to England, Spain and Germany on this subject,” De Rossi said. “And also in terms of stadia, the fixture list and the pitches. If I were ever to leave Roma, I would run away and go abroad, and it’s not just so I would not have to wear a shirt of a different Italian club.
“The conditions are simply better elsewhere, even if Italian football remains the most difficult.”
Roma’s Miralem Pjanic was castigated by the Giallorossi fans for saying losing the Coppa Italia final 1-0 to Lazio on May 26 was not such a tragedy as the winning goal had come courtesy of fellow Bosnian Senad Lulic.
De Rossi added: “I don’t think we are yet ready [for a combined press conference], even if it would be positive. Remember how Pjanic received a deluge of insults when he tried to say that if anybody had to score against Roma then he was pleased that it was Lulic?”
De Rossi, 30, has also found himself on the receiving end of insults after a difficult season on a personal level. He was criticised by some Roma fans for performing better for his country than his club, and he has yet to make up his mind as to whether he will remain with Roma beyond the end of the season, when his contract expires.
“I’ll speak about my future soon,” he said. “I’m delighted with my life, although perhaps not for the past two years of football because of the results -- including that on May 26 -- but things can change in an instant.”
Similarly, striker Pablo Osvaldo has felt the wrath of irate Roma fans, but De Rossi believes it would be wrong to sell the Italy international this summer.
“If he’s delighted at Roma then I’m pleased for him,” De Rossi said. “If he would be delighted at another club then I’d be pleased for him still, but in that case Roma would lose a really strong player, and I would lose a friend.
“He’s a good lad, even in the dressing room. I don’t think he will be jeered. There would be no reason.”