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Pallotta: “Italian football needs to change”

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Pallotta gave a long interview to Repubblica where he weighed in on the status of Serie A and his project at Roma.

«After you, Thohir came from Indonesia. Is this the end of the made in Italy?

Three years ago, when we decided to invest in a club, the only opportunity was Roma. The city had a name for itself and an image recognizable all over the world. This is what you call a global brand, very attracting. The other teams were in the hands of families like Juventus, Inter, Napoli or Fiorentina or lacked of internationality. Now that Thohir has arrived we don’t have to be worried that it’s an expropriation.

Andrea Agnelli says that the Serie A doesn’t have economical force anymore.

The fact that some funds arrive from abroad, like in England, is not a flaw or a weakness of the system, but an opportunity. Attracting investments is never wrong. Then yes, Italian football isn’t as rich as it used to be and lost competitiveness. It sat down, it settled, it looked itself in the mirror, more local than global. And slowly died. Italy has been on the top of the world for a long time but instead of renovating, studying and investing, it relaxed. The will to create a system is missing. Look at what the United Kingdom has done to win the battle against violence and how Germany in five years revolutionized stadium, system, football. They believed in the renewal.

Do you have the doubt to have invested in the wrong country?

I see and ponder. When I come to Roma in the matchdays I see long lines in the box offices and I’m scandalized: people want to buy and we impede them? You have to be sadistic, instead of making the purchase of the ticket easier and faster, it’s an ordeal. Why does it have to be so complicated?

Can you make money with football? This summer you had a 32,4M payoff.

We brought Strootman, the captain of the Dutch National Team at 23 years, Gervinho that was coached at Lille by Garcia and scored 28 goals in 2 years, Ljajic that is a talent. I think that sport and business can go together. It’s not irrational trying to do that. A club can be run with seriousness, discipline and knowledge of the market.

Even without selling the best players every year?

Yes. If you are talking about the sale of Lamela, Marquinhos and Osvaldo, we made a reasoning. Now it looks that Roma got lucky, but we worked behind that. We wanted steadiness in the midfield, a strong spine. I feel for Osvaldo humanly because for his character is pictured as a weirdo. But he’s sensitive, sweet, misunderstood. Like I suffered for De Rossi: how is it possible that a NT start can’t find room in the team? And Pjanic had to stay. When the team came to America I saw a close-knit group, the players were ready to help each other, they were happy to stay together. The year before, instead, the team was too young, with no leadership, everybody played for himself.

And you?

I smashed TVs out of rage. When I’m in America I follow the match as an ultra, I war the Roma shirt and watch it with close friend. I have a flaw: I get angry. I played basketball and I don’t like to lose. You can win having the numbers in order, but if you don’t win, you don’t build a legend.

But Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys haven’t won in a long time.

But they have roots, audience, a strong merchandising, TV deals, historical rivalries. If the question is: do you to make money and don’t win the championship, I say no. But a title doesn’t need to mean to invest crazy amounts of money and having a shabby budget. Moreover, the Italian football loses value abroad, it’s not possible to carry on in this way, it’s too underpaid, 5 times less than the English one. The League need a new entrepreneurship, it needs to evolve, and too much time got wasted.

Galliani might be the president.

I said new people, a different management, more transparent. The other leagues, beside the EPL, have two or three top teams, Italy doubles that number. I speak with Andrea Agnelli and he has good ideas. Many things need to change: going to the stadium is a battle, why haven’t the families the right to go not to an intense spectacle, but quiet? I read Alex Ferguson’s book, the best part is when he drinks with the opponents, after the game. It’s unfair that the teams pay the consequences for the irresponsible behavior of a group of supporters. Who shouts bestialities, who behaves badly, has to be banned forever from the stadium. Why do they let him come back?

Manchester United in the last 5 years played friendlies in 13 countries and has a fan base of 32 million of people.

We are moving too to strengthen the social media, we already did, we’ll do it better. Our platform works, we have 2 million of followers. We’ll make some charities. We postponed the tour because abroad the want to see Totti and he’s injured.

Are you still looking for partners?

We have serious investors ready to come in, by Christmas Roma will have the sponsor on the shirt and by the time I turn 60 there will be a new stadium. We don’t ask anything to the government: we have the ground and the partners. Roma needs it.

Would you bring the play-off in Serie A?

No, it’s ok this way, the season is long and wears the players out.

Are you favorable to introduce technology on the pitch?

No, the waiting would break the game too much and the tension would rise. I’m favorable to use it to judge the referee’s performance. If he made wrong calls, you have to acknowledge that he’s not good enough.

Garcia looked a gamble.

We had his name in mind since the beginning, but he wasn’t the first one on the list. I always wanted a foreign coach that can could compete more with the world than with Italy. I wanted somebody fresh, culturally not too involved in an old system. Rudi convinced me and explained himself in a 20-minute talk. He said what he wanted and in what part of the pitch. My employees are great too».



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