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Nicola Porro and Pippo Russo

Italian football officially entered into a phase of permanent crisis in

the summers of 2002 and 2003. The benefits of the “20-year boom”—

which began with the World Cup victory in Spain in 1982 and was

followed by the success of club sides in international play, after meager

results in the 1970s—have been exhausted, resulting in unprecedented

political and economic hardship for Italy’s most important

sport. Recent managerial folly, with clubs spending much beyond

their means, has been followed by an ebb tide of adversity, characterized

by institutional wreckage and an adventurous search for a

new equilibrium. With no solution in sight, the current situation does

not bode well. A marked tendency to protect particular interests, the

emergence of latent internal divisions, the daily delegitimation of

institutional actors, an apparently insurmountable difficulty in realizing

a mature market structure, the incapacity to renew the managerial

elite, and pockets of shady deals creeping into the structures

charged with overseeing the legality and economic-administrative

propriety within the game—these are just a few of the ills that are

troubling the game in Italy.