With Lotito withdrawing from the FIGC presidential race, Damiano Tommasi, Gabriele Gravina and Cosimo Sibilia are the three candidates left. What are their platforms? What lies ahead for Italian football?
Torrid days in Italian football landscape lie ahead as the race for the presidency of the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) takes shape.
This afternoon, Claudio Lotito, who supported (then fell out of favour with) disgraced FIGC president Carlo Tavecchio, has withdrawn his bid for the spot, leaving three presidential candidates: footballers association president Damiano Tommasi, Serie C president Gabriele Gravina, and president of the Lega Nazionale Dilettanti (national amateur league) Cosimo Sibilia. All three candidates, are proposing what is being touted as a bit of a silver bullet solution to the issue of youth development in Italy, namely the famed B-teams.
What are B-teams?
Simply, B teams are a youth team of any given club that participates in a lower league. The theory is that youth players develop faster and better if they’re given a chance to play against mature/developed players every week, and not just against same-age adversaries in a national youth competition.
Such a B team would allow in-year transfers to and from their B teams throughout the season, even when the transfer window is closed. However, B teams are barred from playing in the same division as their senior side.
For example, if Milan B were to gain promotion from Serie B to Serie A the team that finished immediately below them would gain promotion, and not Milan B.
LND President Cosimo Sibilia, strong of Italian amateur football’s support (an astounding 34%), proposes “to cultivate talent”. One of the ways to succeed in this mission is to establish B-teams. “A faster and more complete maturation of young people can take place through continuous and constant confrontation with more experienced players, be they less technically gifted,” reads Sibilia’s program.
“To allow the second teams of the Serie A clubs, therefore, to participate in the Serie C, limiting such participation to Under 21 players, could contribute to a greater growth of young talents, determining a sort of intermediate zone between the Primavera (Italy’s youth) championship and professionalism at the highest levels”, as reported in Calcio and Finanza’s website today.
Serie C (Italy’s third tier) President Gabriele Gravina counts on the support of about 17% of the total share, and is a little more elusive in his platform:
“The correct timing of the inclusion of the player in the competitive context can represent a fundamental element for the optimal development our youth players, which is a prerequisite for defining the competitive advantage and the quality of the product in the long term», reads his electoral program.
“The hypothesis connected to the so-called B-teams involves the provision of a phase of extensive comparison for the purpose of identifying the status of these teams, the implementation modalities of their insertion but also and above all of the conditions to be imposed for the safeguard of competitive balance. The identification of the age limit and the constraints linked to the limitations of federal status (non-EU) and mobility are some of the elements that we must reflect on – he warns – especially in the framework of the growth path for classes that must be safeguarded as a priority . The impact of such an innovation must be calibrated through an assessment process to which the leagues [Serie A, B, and C, presumably] will be able to show themselves attentive and far-sighted”.
Damiano Tommasi can count on the support of the players association (making up roughly 20% of the voting body) plus 10% from the coaches association. He is the most transparent of the candidates – showing perhaps little political acuity – delineates a clear idea on how to develop a B-team system “made in Italy” with a bulleted list:
- B-teams are to be included in the Serie C, with the possibility of promotion and / or relegation but with the limit of not being able to play in the same competition as the senior team.
- Limitation of the age of players to be registered (U23 or U21) with possibility of carrying a limited number of players above the age restriction.
- Possibility for B-team players to be called up to the senior team during the season (for a limited number of games) only for U23 or U21.
- Exclusion of B-teams from the distribution of any federal or league incentive or of the right to vote in the relevant league’s assembly.
- Facilitation for players selectable for national team duty, in accordance with a minimum number of Italians or a maximum number of foreigners, as long as it’s in compliance with national and international legislative restrictions.
Tommasi’s program also specifies that the registration of B-teams to Serie C would start next season by attrition, that is, a new team would be added as the nth club fails to meet registration requirements for Serie C, alternating them with the repechage.