Feature Photo: Lapresse
The man chosen to lead the Italian Football movement out of its quagmire, doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. 72-year-old Roberto Fabbricini was appointed yesterday by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malagò as emergency administrator for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), after the FIGC General Assembly failed to elect their own President on Monday.
The designation came out as a surprise, as indeed Fabbricini is little known outside the world of CONI, where he currently serves as Secretary General. In his temporary role, he will be supported by law professor Angelo Clarizia, and former football star Alessandro Costacurta as sub-commissioners.
CONI President Giovanni Malagò will assume the temporary leadership of Lega Serie A, the governing body that runs the Italian top competition, and whose presidency has also been vacant since April 2017 due to the top club presidents failing to reach agreement on a common name. Current Lega deputy commissioner Paolo Nicoletti, and Bernardo Corradi, another former player, will support Malagò in his role to complete the new calcio governing structure.
This emergency administration is expected to last for at least six months, and Fabbricini added that it will be “hopefully less, but could be more if necessary.” The newly appointed commissioner remarked that “there are many topics on our agenda, and I have a great team to work with, in order to give calcio the role it deserves.” But first he felt the need to point out that “when rumors about my name started to circulate, I heard people grumbling like I was new to this world, almost a parvenu. I am not a nobody.”
Right, that’s what football needed to restart. Polemics and a little bit of arrogance. But – hey – let’s give the man some time to prove himself. Fabbricini is indeed far from being new to the world of sports, having been the Number Two of the National Olympic Committee for the past five years. It’s just that you would expect a lower profile in such a sensitive situation for the Italians’ favorite pastime.
Federcalcio, the Italian Football Federation, has been lacking guidance since the controversial resignation of former President Carlo Tavecchio. Tavecchio’s kingdom collapsed with Italy failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years, and despite his attempt to maintain his position. Azzurri’s coach Gian Piero Ventura was brusquely fired, and a replacement is still to be found.
The plummeting of Italian football into chaos climaxed with the farcical ending of last Monday’s General Assembly, and its failure to elect a new President. The three candidates – Third-division League President Gabriele Gravina, Amateur League chief Cosimo Sibilia, and Football Players Associations leader Damiano Tommasi – could not reach an agreement for one of them to get the 50% plus one votes necessary for the election. At that point, CONI was forced to take the situation in hand by imposing an emergency external leadership.
In their press remarks, both the Rome-born Fabbricini and “Billy” Costacurta – a former Milan bandiera, who spent his full career playing for the Rossoneri – touched on the need to choose a strong name as Azzurri’s head coach to rebuild the Nazionale’s credibility. They added that the candidates pool includes those names the have been circulating for a while: Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte, Claudio Ranieri, Roberto Mancini.
Current youth team coach Claudio Di Biagio may be sitting on Italy’s bench for the upcoming friendly matches against Argentina and England. But it’s still not clear whether the commissioners will opt for a traghettatore, a “transition coach” to lead the Azzurri for a few months as negotiations with a big name keep going, or will accelerate to put the right person in place from the very beginning.
Actually, very few things are clear at this stage in the world of calcio. We can only sit back, and watch. Oh, and hope for the best, for the future of our beloved game.