Italy’s Serie A league has hit back at the country’s sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora after he said the country’s top clubs were living in a bubble and criticised the millionaire salaries of some players.
The exchange came with Serie A, like football around the rest of the world, at a standstill because of the coronavirus pandemic. Italy is Europe’s worst-affected country with 10,779 deaths and a total of 97,689 confirmed cases.
In an interview with the Rome-based newspaper La Repubblica on Sunday, Spadafora said that sport was not just about football and that he would propose spending 400 million euros (357.17 million pounds) to develop grass roots sport around the country.
“The big clubs are living in a bubble, beyond their means, starting with the millionaire salaries of the players. They must understand that nothing after this crisis will ever be the same again,” he said.
In reply, Serie A said in a statement that football in Italy employs 300,000 people and accounts for one percent of gross domestic product.
Serie A “has always played a recognised role as the locomotive of the sector”, directly generating 3 billion euros of revenue each year, it said.
The league noted that its solidarity payments to develop facilities and youth football outside the top flight had increased from 93 million euros in 2010 to 130 million euros this year.
“This is not the time to make controversy,” said Paolo Dal Pino, the president of Serie A.
“The numbers above speak for themselves and there is no need to add anything else to highlight the role of the Lega Serie A in support of grassroots football and, indirectly, of all Italian sport.”