Italian football is crumbling rapidly
Andre Agnelli, the president of Juventus, has delivered a stark warning about the state of Italian football. Of course, it has been recognised for some time that Serie A has lost the status it once enjoyed alongside La Liga and the Premiership. A series of corruption and match fixing scandals, the extent to which clubs are beholden to their 'ultras' and poor performances have all contributed to a sense of decline.
However, when the 36-year old president of Juve makes the point, he commands an audience. He also emphasised that it is no good trying to use the economic crisis as an alibi. Football has been in decline a number of countries, but nowhere has seen such a rapid fall as Italy.
Agnelli is surely right to say that the problems are structural and demand fundamental reform. But how is reform to be brought about in a country like Italy where the judicial system moves so slowly that a prison sentence on an important person is unlikely ever to be implemented? Italians were said to have a relatively strong attachment to the European Union because it offered the prospect of a state more effective than their own, but even that promise looks like being unfulfilled.