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FIGC - Michele Uva

FIGC CEO Michele Uva lamented about the lack of new stadiums built in Italy during the past ten years. Speaking as a guest on the program “La Politica nel Pallone” about infrastructure and youth policy, Uva did not mince his words.

“162 new stadiums have been built in the past ten years across Europe, only three of these have been in Italy,” said Uva. “This is a ridiculous and embarrassing percentage. This is an important subject which brings back stability to our game, without it there’s no future. Infrastructure and youth policy are the two key pillars from which the revitalization of Italian football will be based. It will take a lot of time but there are no more excuses today, there is a law and planned time to allow clubs to look at new structures.”

Uva went on to discuss additional topics such as VAR (Video Assistant Referees), women’s football, U-21 European championship, among others.

“In order to secure a rosy future for Italian football, it’s vital to build on infrastructure and youth policies and to keep investing in the women’s game. There must also be an awareness of technology and how VAR (Video Assistant Referees) can make a significant contribution but it cannot be the cure to all ills.” 

According to the FIGC, while Italy still lags behind for its tardiness in sporting infrastructure, the work of the FIGC in recent years to promote women’s football has started to bare fruit.

“We’re investing in its development and the improvement can be seen,” added Uva. “Our Under-19 side beat Sweden and Norway and they’ll be involved in the European Championship finals in August. The fact that Juventus will be involved next season brings extra momentum and visibility to women’s football. Sassuolo and Empoli are already in Serie A and Fiorentina were crowned as champions of Italy. You also have to start from grassroots and the Under-12s are developing and this paints an interesting picture for the future in the medium and long term.

The Confederations Cup showed the positives and negatives of VAR with Italy taking a leading role in experimenting with the system which will be used next season in Serie A.

“The Italian refereeing class is ready to make this leap,” confirmed the CEO. “Offline experimentation has given indications and some very interesting internal data. Italy can be a reference point, we want to be at the vanguard of this. We have the resources, the AIA (referee association) has well-prepared referees, we gave everything to get over this hurdle and we moved forward. Now, we’ll look to explain that VAR isn’t the solution to every problem but it’s a natural step to help referees in their decisions.”

The Under-21 European Championship ended with the Azzurrini falling in the semi-final to Spain.

“We’re starting with Ulivieri and President Tavecchio to come up with a way of thinking, the path that we’re following is to work on the ‘Cantera’ but I wouldn’t exclude the possibility of Di Biagio taking us into the 2019 tournament in Italy.”

Uva also looked confidently ahead to the vital World Cup qualifier against Spain on September 2nd in Madrid.

“Italy is always Italy, we can’t be afraid of such a match, nor can we be afraid on playing an eventual play-off. We want to go to Russia and play in the World Cup, this goes without saying.”