x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Forget about the match-fixing as Italy's football is admired

Despite the scandals, the world thinks highly of Italian football. Ian Hawkey considers the evidence.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is one of the many Italian football exports finding success in other countries.
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is one of the many Italian football exports finding success in other countries.

Despite the scandals, the world thinks highly of Italian football.

Consider the evidence.

In England, home of the game's wealthiest domestic league, managers imported from Italy sweep the prizes. Roberto Mancini became the second Italian in three years to lift the Premier League title. And Roberto Di Matteo celebrated an FA Cup and Champions League double with Chelsea.

Germany has renewed respect for Italian football since the Euro 2012 semi-final, when a young, dynamic German side were beaten by a more dynamic Azzurri. The Italy of the European championship impressed most people for their verve and ambition. A heavy defeat in the final, to Spain, should not undo the gains made by Azzurri head coach Cesare Prandelli.

France has an admiration for Serie A, too, particularly Paris Saint-Germain, who currently have the most conspicuous budget in club football. PSG, where Leonardo - formerly of AC Milan and Inter Milan - is technical director.

Carlo Ancelotti is in charge of the first team that has spent over €100 million (Dh460m) on taking players from the Italian league to Paris in the past 14 months.

Milan have earned a big chunk of that money, with the sales of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, to PSG. They, and Ezequiel Lavezzi, who has moved to the French capital from Napoli, were stars in Serie A.

They will be missed. Exporting so much talent, be it native coaches or players who have honed their talent in Serie A, runs the risk of weakening a football culture. And Italy needs a compelling domestic season to retain its status as one of the true heavyweight leagues of the world.

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