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Apr 1, 2014

Ancelotti: Serie A must bring back fans

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti discusses the protest AC Milan supporters have begun to stage.

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has told RAI radio that he believes Italian football will bounce back again, once its off-field issues have been resolved.

Carlo Ancelotti bit his tongue after the match, taking a wholly non-Mourinho approach to the defeat.
Carlo Ancelotti won the Serie A title as well as two Champions League trophies with AC Milan.

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The former Parma, Juventus and AC Milan manager believes that the quality of the Italian game will improve as soon as the fans start flooding back to the stadium.

For that to happen, Ancelotti, 54, says new stadiums need to be built and the matchday experience must improve to restore Serie A to the leading role it enjoyed in European football in the 1990s.

"Italian football's going through a rough time right now, but things move in cycles," he said. "It is still technically competitive, but improvements are needed in terms of the infrastructure and the people's desire to go back to the stadium."

The decline of Italian football paradoxically started soon after the national team won the World Cup in 2006.

That victory came in the same summer as the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal which resulted in Juventus' relegation to Serie B, and led to a widespread loss of faith in the Italian game among fans, who deserted games en masse.

Unappealing stadiums -- many of which were built for the 1990 World Cup and have not been renovated since -- sent crowd numbers dwindling further, and Serie A has now dropped out of the top three UEFA-ranked leagues, losing a fourth place in the Champions League as a result.

Juventus have taken the first step forwards with the construction of their new Juventus Stadium home, while Roma last week unveiled plans for a new stadium of their own.

Udinese are already working on renewing the Stadio Friuli, while Napoli are keen to take possession of their Stadio San Paolo and bring it up to modern standards -- though Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis has threatened to uproot the club and move to England if his plans are not approved.

Once those changes have been made, Ancelotti believes Serie A will have a product which will attract fans from all over Europe once again, and says the game itself does not need the same level of modernisation.

"Italian football must not change its philosophy, which is based on tactics and defensive organisation," he continued. "It's the culture of the land.

“Italian football is more practical, Spanish football more aesthetically pleasing, but the fact the fans are not going to the stadium anymore is not because the teams are not playing well because there are teams playing good football.

"I don't think there is any problem with the league. The rhythm of the Italian game has always been different, but it's more a problem of quality now and the Italian sides just have that little bit less."

That is just one of the reasons why Ancelotti left Milan in 2009, and he has coached abroad ever since.

Having led Chelsea to Premier League glory and Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 title, he is now seeking success with Real, where he still holds out hope of winning a domestic league title in a fourth country.

"Winning the Decima is pretty much everybody's dream in Madrid, but the league is also an objective," he added.

"We've fallen back a bit as we were at the top until two Sundays ago, and then we had a stumble, but we're still doing really well and we were unbeaten for a long time."

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