HomeFootballItalian government plans to oversee finances sparks turf war

Italian government plans to oversee finances sparks turf war


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ROME – A plan by the Italian government to appoint a watchdog to oversee the finances of professional sports clubs set off a public row on Monday with the head of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and other administrators.

The regulator would have a remit to supervise the “economic and financial management” of clubs in sports such as soccer and basketball to ensure that they were both sound and sustainable, according to excerpts of draft government proposals reviewed by Reuters.

The proposals have echoes of plans to appoint an independent regulator for English soccer that are going through the British parliament.

Italian football federation FIGC will discuss how to respond to the proposal at a special meeting on Monday evening, an official said.

Sports administrators in Italy are concerned that the measures could breach rules to prevent political interference in the running of sports.

“I have serious doubts that this proposal will be accepted by international sports bodies,” Giovanni Malago, CONI President, said in an interview with La Repubblica newspaper, saying that needed to be checked as a priority.

“If not, we risk making a fool of ourselves on the world stage and unfortunately that wouldn’t be the first time that an Italian government has got itself into such a position,” he added.

Sports minister Andrea Abodi hit back, saying that there was clear room for improvement in the way that soccer clubs in particular are managed.

“It’s a shame there wasn’t the same uproar when tax debts for over 100 million euros ($108 million) for professional clubs in the top three divisions were written off in just the last two years,” he told Italian Rai radio.

The measures are expected to form part of a wider sports decree to be presented by the government later this month. REUTERS

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