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Nov 18, 2013

Pallotta: Italian football must change

Roma president James Pallotta says Italian football "has died" and must change if it is to become great again, while his Inter Milan counterpart Erick Thohir has predicted its resurrection.

James Pallotta is Roma president.
James Pallotta is Roma president.

Horncastle: Rossi deserving

In an interview with La Repubblica, Pallotta called for changes in the way Italian football is run after witnessing a steady decline of Serie A which has left it languishing behind Europe's other top leagues.

"Bit by bit, it has died," Pallotta said. "Italian football no longer pays the wages it used to and it's lost competitiveness compared to other countries. It sat down, rested on its laurels and spent too much time looking in the mirror; looking at itself rather than looking globally."

As a result, not only has Serie A been overtaken by the Bundesliga as the third biggest league in Europe, based on UEFA's five-year coefficients, it risks falling further behind.

Only a miracle will prevent it from dropping behind Portugal at the end of the current campaign while France, Russia, the Netherlands and Ukraine can also make up ground when the season of Inter Milan's Champions League triumph is no longer considered from next year.

Rather than four Italian clubs starting in Europe's elite club competition like two seasons ago, it could soon only be two, at best.

"We need a new leadership in the Lega [Serie A], we need to evolve. Too much time has been wasted," continued Pallotta. "Look at what Great Britain did to fight and win the battle against hooliganism, and what Germany have done in five years, revolutionising stadiums, the system and their football.

"They worked hard, changed and believed in a renewal. Italian football is being sold off internationally, it's too underpaid -- five times less than English football. We need new people, a new management and more transparency."

Calcio has not lost all of its fascination, though, as Thohir's investment in Inter shows, and the Indonesian believes it will not be long before Italian football is on the rise.

"Serie A can be one of the biggest leagues in the world once again," he told RAI television. "We can make up ground on the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga, and in the biggest international competitions."

He has brought foreign investment to an Italian club and Pallotta says there are "serious investors" ready to back Roma, who will "have a short sponsor come Christmas" and can look forward to having "a new stadium by the time I am 60."

Pallotta is currently 55, leaving five years for him to deliver on that promise and for Italian football to rise again.

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