“Going to the stadium has become a business. Not even city halls equate it as to the amount of bureaucracy”. David sneaks out from the crowded ranks at turnstile 17 of the Olimpico Stadium in Rome and remembers when following his pet team was his much-expected Sunday ritual. “We used to leave late in the morning and arrived before lunch, the game was the main part of a day spent outdoors, together with folks like you.”
There were no cards nor pre-filtering, only light searching, which concerned mostly members of ultras groups. Latecomers were able to go to the nearby box office, a few minutes of queuing and they had a ticket. “Today, all that is no longer possible – Davide said -, if you want to see a match, you have to plan it at least a week earlier, buy the tickets, and take your papers with you. If you cannot do so, let us say because work, you have to delegate a friend of yours to do so. It is stressful… “. Responsibility falls on those who transformed stadiums into battlefields, but also on the State, which prefers to fight hooliganism by creating more and more rules. Thus, a drastic approach prevails on rationality in homage to the equation ” empty stadium – no incidents.”
A slap in the face of the appeal coming from Italian football, which is still a mass phenomenon, but less and less followed and appreciated. Data concerning turnout in the stadiums that are provided by the A League on a yearly basis, speak for themselves: in ten years there has been a decline of 10%. That is to say, from about 9 million 500 thousand spectators (including subscribers) in 2004-2005 to 8 million 700 thousand reported in 2013-2014 (latest official report). Same thing (and the same proportion) also in terms of average attendance in separate matches, which decreased from 25,000 to 22,000 and 500 over the last two years ago. A trend which is likely to worsen, considering first data about the current season. 11 days before the end of the championship, the average number of fans present during the single matches was of 21 thousand and 900 spectators (-5% compared to 2013-2014). If this percentage seems to be insignificant to you, you are wrong. Also because ticket and pass sales are still the main source of income (along with TV broadcasting) for the football clubs, which all together represent a third of the Italian industry.
To cope with losses clubs often chose to increase ticket prices, discouraging thus weaker strata, which is the where the most passionate fans come from. And there does not seem to be a rationale, considering the pitiful state of the stadiums. All the stadiums besides “Friuli” in Udine, the “Juventus Stadium” in Turin and “Mapei” in Reggio Emilia are public facilities. Over 20% of them, including those used by the B League, are considered inadequate. According to the regulations of the A League stadiums serve at least 20,000 seats. It has forced teams like Carpi to move their matches to other cities (specifically Modena).
In other cases, it has been possible to use stadiums thanks to special exceptions. “Matusa” in Frosinone, for example, has 10,000 places, but can be used by the local team thanks to the law 210 of 2005, which allows to use such a big structure “on condition that it is built in the common area with a population below 100 thousand inhabitants and that the competition concerns a football team promoted to the aforesaid championship for the first time in the last twenty years.” Besides, there are problems related to safety, sanitation, and to the objective difficulty of making internal controls in most of the stadiums. Without forgetting the serious anti ultras measures that have led several supporters (such as those of Rome and Lazio) to desert their home matches. And Italy inexorably loses its passion for football.