FIGC seeks suspension of betting ads ban in Italy
The FIGC, the Italian soccer federation, has called for the country’s ban on betting sponsorships in sports to be suspended as it is having a detrimental effect on the sector financially.
Gabriele Gravina, the FIGC president, claims the restrictions put in place by the government are “bringing the entire sports sector to its knees” and wants the ban to be temporarily lifted for two years to allow soccer clubs to recoup lost revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The governing body’s chief wants the Italian authorities to put measures in place to help ease the financial trouble in domestic soccer as he believes it could impact the long-term outlook of the sport.
Additionally, the federation wants to see a ‘football savings fund’ created for the same two-year period in which 1 per cent of all online and in-person sports bets in Italy would be sent to a national fund managed by the FIGC, with the goal of financially supporting soccer projects throughout the country.
Teams in Italy’s top-tier Serie A were forced to abide by a new law banning the advertising of gambling companies from the 2019-20 season.
In the summer of 2018, the Italian gambling market was rocked by the passing of the so-called ‘Dignity Decree’ drawn up by the country’s coalition government, which centred on labour conditions but also outlawed all forms of gambling advertising (except for the country’s national lottery).
The legislation covers sponsorship across all sports and has resulted in various Serie A clubs being deprived of lucrative deals. The proposal was driven by Italian deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio, of the Five Star Movement party, in reaction to concerns over the impact of betting on family finances and vulnerable members of society.
The FIGC is also keen for the government to allow the reopening of stadiums at 100 per cent capacity to fully vaccinated people, as well as changes to tax rules.
The federation has sent several proposals to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the representatives of the Departments of Economy and Finance, Health and Economic Development, as well as to the Undersecretary for Sport.
Gravina said: “We are at a crossroads; we must act quickly to prevent the professional football crisis from obliging the clubs to block their activity, thus bringing the entire sports sector to its knees, the companies of the 12 product sectors connected to it and the entire country system, with an undesirable decrease in direct and indirect tax contributions.
“We did not ask the government for refreshments, rather to recognise the socio-economic importance that football has through the adoption of some urgent measures to relieve the clubs from the crisis generated by Covid-19. Football can play a decisive role in Italy’s overall recovery.”
With its ban on gambling ads, Italy set a precedent, with Spain’s government adopting similar measures which will come into effect from the start of the upcoming season in the top-flight LaLiga.
From the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign, the English Premier League was also forced to restrict the level of activity as the Remote Gambling Association, which represents some of the country's largest bookmakers, responded to increasing public and political concerns over the growth in such advertising in live sports coverage, and in particular its contribution to problem gambling and impact on young people.
In the past two seasons, under a new 'whistle-to-whistle' ban, there has been no betting advertising from five minutes before an event starts to five minutes after it finishes, including at half-time in soccer matches, before the watershed of 9pm.