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Last Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007, 20:17 GMT
Calcio crisis
By John Sinnott

Livorno's stadium was opened as the Stadio Edda Ciano Mussolini
Livorno's stadium was opened as the Stadio Edda Ciano Mussolini
Italy should learn from England as it looks to rebuild its tattered reputation, according to an expert on Italian football stadia.

Italian football resumed this weekend after games at all levels were postponed following the death of a policeman at a Serie A match between Catania and Palermo on 2 February.

Even so, many of the matches took place in empty stadia due to new anti-hooligan measures introduced by Italy's government.

According to Tijs Tummers, co-author of the recently published An Illustrated History of Stadi d'Italia the death of policeman Filippo Raciti should be Italy's wake up call just as Hillsborough was for England.

The deaths of 96 Liverpool fans in 1989 heralded a massive programme of stadium renovation in England.

The clubs have just forgotten about the supporters
Tijs Tummers

But because Italy hosted the World Cup in 1990 and its programme of stadium rebuilding was almost completed in 1989 it missed out on many of the satefy features that became compulsory in England.

"Italian stadia are beautiful architecturally but their golden era was in the 1930s under the dictator Benito Mussolini," Tummers told BBC Sport.

A lorry brings new turnstiles in San Siro
Over 13m is being spent on updating the San Siro stadium

"They're great to look from the outside but they offer no comfort for the modern supporter.

"After the Hillsborough disaster English grounds began to attract a different type of fan - they were places where you would feel comfortable taking your child or wife.

"But in Italy the atmosphere is that you don't feel as though you have been lucky to get a ticket for the game.

"Matches aren't sold out and there's a lot of space between the pitch and the supporters.

"When you go to the toilet it's dark and the accesses are badly lit, while it is not easy to get a cup of coffee.

"The tifosi have become more involved fighting with other supporters. It has become more of a battle between two cities, rather than a game of football between two teams.

606 VIEW
BBC Sport's John Sinnott

"Even if your team has lost on the pitch, if you win in the stands then you've still got something to cheer about."

In the past Italian clubs had little incentive to renovate their grounds, partly because the stadia are usually owned by the city council and partly because they receive huge sums of money from television rights.

"For Italian clubs the real pride is in their training ground," added Tummers. "AC Milan's Milanello is a state-of-the art training facility, but that is not the case for the San Siro.

"The clubs have just forgotten about the supporters.

A flare is thrown during a Italian Serie A between Roma and Milan in January 2006
Firecrackers will no longer be allowed inside stadiums

"They get so much money from television rights that for the clubs it's not a must for the fans to be in the stadium.

"Football has become a television sport and average attendances in Serie A have slipped to below 20,000. They used to be 38,000."

Tummers believes Italy should also introduce stewarding to help control fans.

"I can't ever remember seeing a steward at an Italian game, whereas in England, Germany and Holland, stewarding has been a real help," said Tummers.

With the latest crisis endangering Italy's Euro 2012 bid, Italian clubs must think radically if they are to restore confidence to Serie A and B.

"They have to start from scratch," said Tummers. "At the moment they are playing in monuments. They need stadiums without an athletic track and that have a modern and friendly environment.

"They should build new stadia that are buildings that are open for the whole week and not just at the weekend, where people can eat and drink from Monday to Friday.

"You have to treat fans like clients and not hooligans.

"Italian clubs could also learn from English clubs' social programmes. Serie A clubs could do a lot more work with inner-city youngsters."



SEE ALSO
Six Italian stadiums get go-ahead
08 Feb 07 |  Football
Italian football violence: Readers' views
07 Feb 07 |  Talking Point
Italian league halted by violence
02 Feb 07 |  Football


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