Saturday February 4 2012
Calcio in the ice age

The recent cold snap brought out the worst in Italian football infrastructure and showed why the Juventus Stadium is the future, argues Susy Campanale.

Italians are not known for their organisational abilities. Even then, the chaos caused by snow in Serie A has been little short of embarrassing. New stadiums are needed, that much is clear, but this failure to play games because the stands are iced over has more to do with a desperate lack of fore-thought than long-term structural issues. The Juventus Stadium has shown us the way forward and it has become too urgent to ignore.

The Atalanta-Genoa farrago on Wednesday evening could not have been handled worse. Teams were told after the warm-up that the game was off due to frozen stands. The supporters who had made their way into the snow-covered stadium offered to simply move out of the iced sections, which led to the sides warming up again – and in some cases having to get back shirts they had already exchanged – only to be told the match was definitively called off anyway.

In 2012, we have games with a perfectly usable pitch cancelled because a section of the stands is icy. This is most likely because the authorities don’t want to get sued if someone slips and breaks their leg. Aware of the weather reports and the fact February is generally quite a snowy time in northern Italy, could they not put some grit down? Maybe some of those blankets people put over their cars at night to prevent frost? Or those weird giant hair-dryers that seemed to be in use when trying to blow snow off the pitch in Bergamo? It really can’t be that complicated. Yet it’s not even clear who takes responsibility for the upkeep of the stands leading up to a game, as the stadiums are owned by the local council and merely rented by the clubs on match day.

The Juventus Stadium was unveiled with great fanfare and only now are we beginning to see why it is so important that others follow suit. It was colder in Turin than any other city over the past week, yet this arena and its seats remained in perfect condition. It is packed in all weather and against any opponent, whereas even the top of the table Udinese-Juventus couldn’t bring the punters in at the Stadio Friuli. People compared the Turin structure to a Premier League stadium, but I’d say it is closer to the Bundesliga, which makes sense considering the weather is more like Germany than England. If Munich can have an evening kick-off in sub-zero temperatures, why can’t Parma?

It is imperative that the stadiums built for the 1990 World Cup be torn down and replaced by ones more suited to their every day needs. Udinese, Cagliari and Chievo represent small fanbases, so there is no need for such large arenas that sap any atmosphere out of the cavernous walls. They’re expensive to run, impossible to heat and truly embarrassing to see 70 per cent empty on a weekly basis. The investment would be paid off pretty quickly by having the gate actually go into their coffers, the chance to sell official merchandise on site and provide tours of the stadium. Serie A has resisted progress for too long and the Juventus Stadium has shown us what Italian football can achieve.

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Have your say...
Serie A should invest NOW. In eight to ten years Juventus will have earned enough to earn the costs of the new stadium. Plus the pleasure of being there instead of an old too big stadium with running tracks. Juventus only need to remove the cables in the corners to improve the view.
on the 16th February, 2012 at 5:46pm
Well, the article lack a lot of facts and factors that made Juve's Stadium possible, it's not like today Inter's, Udine's and Parma's presidents say, tomorrow we build new stadiums, it's simply not possible for many reasons, each every club would build their own stadium, it's up to community councils and gov't to make it possible. Turin was an exception from the rule, and such exceptions won't happen in other cities unless new friendly law is passed.
on the 9th February, 2012 at 1:31pm
@scustumat and Ben Lally

The stadia law that is still being reviewed is Legge Crimi.

Here is some information about it and what clubs are doing in response to the law being stymied:
on the 7th February, 2012 at 10:25pm
To be honest i have heard the same before italian stadiums are outdated and no fit for purpose and it is the truth every calcio fan knows this. What i don't see a lot of is analysis over why serie a built new stadiums what the problems in their way is it just finances or are there political issues involved is it down to planning regs or in the case of napoli does the mob influence new projects. In addition no one has mention why juvetus have been the only team to build a new stadium.
on the 5th February, 2012 at 10:39pm
I will not let you tear down the Bentegodi, because Hellas Verona do a fine job of filling it with noise. A better solution would be to get rid of the hideously boring teams with no real history or pedigree, and who's very existence (Chievo, Novara) only exists to annoy true Calcio lovers like myself. Thanks.
on the 5th February, 2012 at 7:53pm
I tell you what Italy need to do! Apply to host another World Cup! That's the only way clubs will get off their behind and do something about the state of our stadia and bring Calcio up to date with modern standards needed for Football.
on the 5th February, 2012 at 2:21pm
Tear down Chievo's stadium and build a smaller one for their fan base? Don't you think that the historic team of Verona, Hellas - who have a much larger fan base even whilst in the lower leagues, should be the focus of attention. You either need to read (or re-read if you've forgotten it) "A Season With Verona" by Tim Parks, one of the best football books ever written.
on the 5th February, 2012 at 11:44am
With modern stadiumss serie a will be unstoppable. Glad we are paving the way, forza juve
on the 5th February, 2012 at 11:25am
Susy ,

Good article , but have you been or live In Italy at the moment. Nothing gets done
, no one has the money and the bureaucracy stops any progress in this beautiful country. The problem is the councils and the clubs being held to ransom because someone knows someone. It's a shame because without new stadiums Italy are not going to make any changes and without something like a euro or world cup in Italy there is no additional funding , let's just hope one day italy finally have enough!
on the 5th February, 2012 at 10:36am
It is long overdue in Italy that teams build new modern stadiums that are owned by team clubs. What we are seeing with the weather is the last straw. If we want to see Serie A competing at all levels with the other leagues,we need new stadiums to be built immediately.To have the atmosphere one gets when watching the Juve games on T.V., in all stadiums will propel Serie A T.V. viewership world wide.
on the 5th February, 2012 at 7:57am
Juventua FC built a new stadium, spent millions to built a winning team again .... and thousands of workers from FIAT (the car manufacture business run by Juventus president Agnelli and his family) lost their jobs because of the crisis of FIAT.
The most embarrassing football club in history!
on the 5th February, 2012 at 2:33am
As a Laziale, I love the Stadio Olimpico. However I'm starting to love the Juventus Stadium. There's talk that Lazio will move a similar way as Juventus (move to a new modern but smaller than capacity stadium) I think the lega calcio should pay for the more poorer serie a teams like Roma, Udinese & Chievo to build a new stadium. There should be twenty stadiums in serie a. Maybe the Stadio Olimpico should be only Lazio & the lega calcio should make a small 20,000 seater stadium for Roma
on the 5th February, 2012 at 2:25am
its definately a setback for the league and its kinda embarresing, but having dsaid that... it also is the coldest january in recent history and does bring more sense of urgency to the clubs renting out stadiums. maybe most of them could use even a retrofit type of reno but there are facilities tht should be brought down and rebuilt completely
hope the serie a can learn from the team they tried so hard to destroy
Forza Juventus and their beautifull Home
on the 5th February, 2012 at 1:48am
Lega Calcio is nothing more then a bunch of dinosaurs with zero knowledge of modern technology.... makes Serie A look like a 3rd tier league..... pathetic
on the 5th February, 2012 at 1:02am
Susy, do you happen to know what the latest is on that new stadium law? I was under the impression that once that passed it would kickstart stadium plans/construction up and down the peninsula. Any progess or update on that?
on the 5th February, 2012 at 12:13am
Superb as always.

Is it the local council's that are stopping them though, refusing them planning permission as they make too much money through the rent the clubs pay to use the stadiums?
on the 4th February, 2012 at 11:18pm

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