05 February 2007

Calcio to return soon

Matches could begin again as soon as Sunday
New regulations to be put into effect

After the emergency joint meeting held by the FIGC, CONI, and members of the Italian government, it has been decided that calcio will resume play soon. If not this coming weekend, play should resume the following weekend. [update: A final decision on when play will resume will be announced Wednesday.] However, stadiums around the country will be subject to stringent new security measures, and those that do not comply will be required to play home matches without fans. There will also be a new ban on selling blocks of tickets to visiting fans, to prevent organized ultras groups from attending away matches, but visiting spectators will not be banned completely.

Of greatest concern is the number of matches that will be played behind closed doors, and the disadvantage that will lend to the squads whose stadiums do not pass muster. According to Kataweb, only six of the country's stadiums meet the proposed safety guidlines:
  • Roma's Stadio Olimpico (Lazio, Roma)
  • Torino's Stadio Olimpico (Torino, Juve)
  • Genoa's Stadio Luigi Ferraris (Samp, Genoa)
  • Palermo's Stadio Renzo Barbera (Palermo)
  • Siena's Stadio Artemio Franchi (Siena)
  • Messina's Stadio San Filippo (Messina)
The San Siro of Milan surprisingly does not meet the requirements even though it is a UEFA 5-star rated stadium. It, as well as the Stadio Tardini in Parma, are very close to meeting the requirements fully and should be ready for play soon. Among those criteria that are required in the proposed rules are:
  • required electronic ticketing
  • video surveillance in stadiums that seat 10,000+
  • entries with turnstiles
  • stewards provided by the club
  • prescreening area
  • retractable barriers
Given the fact that only 9 out of 42 clubs in Serie A and B play their home matches in qualifying stadiums, they may well wish to put off the start of play at least for another week to try to bring their home grounds up to code. Also keep in mind that one of those 9 teams, Palermo, is unlikely to be playing any home matches with fans, regardless of the fitness of their stadium. That exact ruling is still pending in the disciplinary commission of FIGC, but should be released in the next day or so.

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