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By ESPN Staff

Italy and Australia celebrate 'beautiful friendship'

SYDNEY, May 29 (Reuters) - Italy's soccer federation pledged on Thursday to help its Australian counterpart to develop the sport.

The two nations agreed to share resources and expertise in what the Australians called a 'beautiful friendship'.

'Italy and Australia have long had a close relationship at all levels because of the large number of Australians of Italian origin,' Football Federation Australia (FFA) chairman Frank Lowy said.

'The Italian football team is also one of the great exponents of football and has thrilled many football fans over the years.

'This agreement reinforces the depth of the relationship between our countries, and also broadens it to include our shared passion for the beautiful game.'

The agreement, which was signed in Sydney, includes the sharing of resources and expertise, including technical exchange in the areas of coaching, referees, game development, youth soccer, women's soccer, sports science and medicine.

'Italy is a country with a great sporting tradition,' Italian federation president Giancarlo Abete told reporters.

'But tradition alone is not enough to keep you at a standard. We need to keep abreast of all new developments.

Lowy described the agreement as an exchange in every sense of the word.

'In some areas (the Italians) clearly offer great experience and expertise, and in other areas Australia does,' Lowy said.

The Italian federation will also provide advice and expertise to FFA in developing the 'Home of Football' in Australia which is to include a technical centre and a domestic training base for Australia's nine national teams.

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