Foreign ownership in Italian soccer: opportunities and prospects for men’s and women’s soccer

SPORT KNOWLEDGE CENTER

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A webinar entitled “Foreign ownership in Italian soccer: opportunities and prospects for men’s and women’s soccer” was held at SDA Bocconi. Speakers included Demetrio Albertini (President of FIGC’s Technical Sector), Ludovica Mantovani (President of FIGC’s Women’s Football Division), Giuseppe Marotta (CEO of Internazionale FC Area Sport) and Philip Platek (President of Spezia Calcio), and were moderated by Dino Ruta, SDA Bocconi’s Sport Knowledge Center Director.

The Webinar explored the topic of the foreign ownerships that have intensified investments in Italian Serie A and Serie B clubs in recent years. By now, 8 Serie A and 5 Serie B clubs are foreign-owned. These new investors intend to bring new opportunities and perspectives in the managerial and technical spheres, laying the ground for international growth for both Italian men’s and women’s football movements.

“It is normal for foreign owners to bring their own way of seeing the sport – the President of FIGC’s Technical Sector Demetrio Albertini stated – and, as a Federation, I believe we need to be able to leverage our context, with our merits and defects, and at the same time open up to get to know and understand these foreign owners.” In addition, “skills and financial resources are both necessary to a sustainable development,” President Albertini continued.

Then Giuseppe Marotta, CEO of Internazionale FC Area Sport, highlighted the fact that “foreign owners have brought in a new business model: beforehand, winning was the goal, and the idea of sustainability was less important; now the situation is exactly the opposite. Today – the Nerazzurri executive reiterated – the situation has been turned upside down and it is necessary to bring sustainability to the forefront, even at the expense of sport results. Perhaps this does not always reward athletes and fans, but it is the winning model.”

“We believe that Italy will go through a soccer renaissance. Italian soccer is a great product and will regain great visibility,” President of Spezia Calcio Philip Platek commented. “I think it is important to combine the economic and technical aspects of soccer, and continue to improve from both points of view in order to retain the best players in our league.” Platek added that “Serie A should be structured in the same way as a multinational company. We should create a media company and train valuable managers who can promote the Italian league throughout the world, and extend their activities to the Middle East, Asia and the North American continent to leverage television rights. Just as the American leagues and the Premier League have done, maximizing their profits by selling their rights all over the world. The League’s new multimedia center will be key, but we will also need to promote distribution abroad,” the President concluded.

Finally, on the subject of the development of women’s soccer, FIGC’s Women’s Football Division President Ludovica Mantovani underlined the fact that the Federation is investing a lot in such development. Also thanks to the use of new technologies, they are trying to create a community to make the movement visible and give the girls a dream. “With the foreign ownerships, I see opportunities in the future, I see ideas, they have their own way of thinking, they are integrating and it is right that this contamination continues, bringing us great visibility and great prospects,” the President added. “While organizing our championships, I can talk to the foreign owners and discuss ideas. When Fiorentina invested in Viola park, its new training center for both the men’s and women’s teams, with a development of all the infrastructure, from the guest quarters to the training grounds and the mini stadium, it brought the men’s and women’s sectors closer together. These foreign owners have a very clear vision and we hope it will be an example for other clubs”.

“The message that emerges is one of integration, discussion and exchange,” SDA Bocconi’s Sport Knowledge Center director Dino Ruta explained. “Clearly, Italy has a tradition of technical nature, concerning the game and the passion for the game, but we are also able to integrate other aspects such as investing in infrastructure, entertainment and involving more fans. We need to invest in tangible assets in order to create an international product and increase the average value of Italian football abroad.”

The event accompanied the launch of the new edition of the Executive Program in Management of Football, organized on the initiative of FIGC’s Technical Sector in partnership with SDA Bocconi School of Management. The new edition will start on March 14th and enrollment is open until February 28th. More information is available at www.sdabocconi.it/figc.

SDA Bocconi School of Management

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