Lack of Italian footballers alarms sport chiefs

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Carlo Tavecchio said new centres were being created to foster home-grown talent. Photo: Emanuele.corr/Wikimedia Commons
14:41 CEST+02:00
Carlo Tavecchio, head of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), and Italy coach Antonio Conte said on Monday action was needed to redress the balance of national players after the season kicked off with a majority of foreign footballers.

Tavecchio said the first day of the Serie A season on Sunday showed a stark imbalance in Italian football.

“Yesterday, while I was watching the matches on TV, I reflected: Of 66 players on the pitch, there were only 14 Italians,” he was quoted in Ansa as saying.

“It’s not possible to go forward like this,” said Tavecchio, who was named FIGC chief last month despite being investigated by football’s governing body Uefa over alleged racism.

In an apparent jibe at France and Juventus player Paul Pogba, Tavecchio said in July: "Here we get 'Opti Poba' who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player at Lazio."

Racism charges against Tavecchio have been dropped in Italy, although following an international outcry last month Uefa said it was opening an investigation into the comments.

His criticism of the imbalance between national and foreign players came the same day Antonio Conte, Italy's new coach, said he was struggling to find enough players for the national side.

"I've read that I'm being criticized for not selecting any first team [Serie A] striker except [Simone] Zaza [Sassuolo] but when I go to all the Serie A sides all the attackers are foreigners," he said.

Speaking at a press conference in Florence, Conte described the current situation as "really alarming" and said he wants Italian clubs to give "more places to Italian players".

"They have to roll up their sleeves, and not just talk...even in the youth sides there are too many foreigners".

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In Rome. Tavecchio said the “problem” of having too few Italian players needed to be addressed “from a technical-legal point of view”, while plans are already in place to foster home-grown talent.

“The National Amateur League (Lega Nazionale Dilettanti) is creating 19 federal centres that can offer 700,000 young people a base for the professional world in a rational way,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Uefa to probe football chief's alleged racism

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