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Nov 14, 2013

Italy chief: Replace hooligans with kids

The Juventus Stadium may not be half-empty when the two ends of the ground are closed for the upcoming visit of Udinese, if the president of the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) Giovanni Malago gets his way.

The Juventus Stadium was opened in 2011.
The Juventus Stadium was opened in 2011.

The gates to the Curva Sud and Curva Nord will be locked when Juventus host Udinese on Dec. 1, but Malago, after a meeting with the Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Wednesday, believes there could be a way to open them -- to children.

"Opening all of the Curva closed due to racism and letting only children in is a fantastic idea," Malago said. "We need the clubs and the Lega (Serie A) to look into this from a regulatory point of view, but I like the idea a lot."

Fenerbahce set a precedent by letting only women and children into their league game with Manisaspor in 2011 after a pitch invasion during a preseason friendly led to a full stadium closure. Rather than playing behind closed doors, the Turkish Football Association only banned those it was sure had caused the trouble -- the men.

"It would be a great signal," continued Malago. "It would be like when we confiscated assets from the Mafia."

Letta would like to go even further to improve the matchday experience at Serie A games by approving new rules to facilitate clubs in their attempts to build new or renovate old stadiums.

At present, bureaucracy is hindering clubs from improving arenas, most of which were last enhanced ahead of Italia '90 and some of which date back even further since their last upgrade.

Juve led the way by rebuilding the former Stadio Delle Alpi while Udinese have finally started work on renovating the Stadio Friuli after years of planning and wrangling.

Lazio, Roma, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Sampdoria are just five clubs who have expressed their desire to build new grounds, although strict rules and drawn-out building application processes mean plans are pencilled on paper, but no more than that.

"I want to have the final word on a long-standing stadium problem," Letta told reporters. "There will be an amendment drawn up in the stability plan which will define this issue once and for all, and I will be inviting the parliament to approve it.

"This is the appeal I will be making to parliament: from Jan. 1, we need new laws for more modern stadia without any barriers."

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