Repeal ban on gambling ads to save Serie A, Italian government says

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Posted: Aug 3, 2021, 2:52 a.m.

Last update on: Aug 3, 2021, 02:52 a.m.

Italy has conquered Europe in football and killed it at the Olympics, winning the double Olympic gold in the 100 meters and high jump last Sunday. But the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) says future sporting triumphs could be curtailed by a gambling advertising ban that cuts crucial funding.

Gabriele Gravina
FIGC president Gabriele Gravina, pictured, said the sports industry was ‘on its knees’ due to the pandemic and the lack of financial support from the gaming industry. (Image: Le Laziali)

The Italian government took the sudden decision to impose a general ban on gambling advertising in the summer of 2018, starting in early 2019. At the time, more than half of all Serie clubs A had entered into sponsorship agreements with gambling companies.

All types of business marketing, including product placement, branded item distribution, and influencer marketing, were suddenly banned.

Sports sector “On your knees”

FIGC President Gabriele Gravina said in a statement Monday that the decision “brought the entire sports sector to its knees.”

He called on the government to suspend the ban measures for at least two years to help Italian football recover the revenues decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Italy is one of the largest regulated gaming markets in the world, and the ban is estimated to drain Serie A teams of at least $ 120 million a year.

In a letter sent to the president of the Council of Ministers, the departments of economy and finance, health and economic development, and the undersecretary for sports, Gravina also called for the establishment of a fund national level for football which would include contributions from the betting industry, equal to one percent of the betting handle.

Decline of Serie A

Italian Serie A was once the dominant league in Europe, but the country and its football clubs have been hit hard by the economic downturn that began in 2008. And despite the glorious resurgence of the national team, gli Azzurri, this year, the football of the national league remains in the doldrums.

Financial gains in recent years suggested Serie A was rebounding, but these were largely offset by the coronavirus pandemic, which has slowed modernization and construction projects and deprived clubs of crucial season ticket revenue .

Gravina says Italian football is at a crossroads. Financial constraints mean that Serie A will no longer be able to attract the best players and those who currently play for Italian clubs will go elsewhere, in the Spanish Liga or in the English Premier League.

This will devalue the league and the sectors connected to it, he argues, while reducing tax revenues.

“We are not asking the government for handouts but to recognize the socio-economic importance of football by adopting urgent measures to relieve clubs from the crisis generated by COVID-19,” Gravina said. “Football can play a decisive role in Italy’s overall recovery.”

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