Recent violence threatens Italys bid
Italy hopes to celebrate a Festa Italiana free from corruption and hooliganism if its wins the right to host the Euro 2012 football tournament. As one of the leading nations in staging major football competitions, Italy hosted the World Cup in 1934 and 1990 and the Euro event in 1968 and 1980.
The nations footballers won their fourth World Cup title last year in Germany and have one Euro title from 1968. But Euro officials have voiced concern regarding Italys corruption scandal in the Serie A, along with fan racism and violence−and the way the national authorities are dealing with it. The reportedly fierce action of Italian riot police against Manchester United fans at a recent Champions League match in Romes Olympic stadium drew widespread criticism and an investigation by the ruling European body, UEFA.
Some see the negative headlines as endangering Italys bid, but the deciding UEFA executive board might award Italy the event in order to help the nation overcome its problems. Euro 2012 is not just a sports event. It offers a chance to win back the credibility Italian football is currently trying to gain, said bid committee chief Luca Pancalli. In addition, the Euro tournament would allow Italy to renovate the majority of its stadiums. Matches are to be played in Rome, Milan, Bari, Naples, Florence, Palermo, Turin and Udine. Should the tournament be expanded from 16 to 24 teams, Bologna, Cagliari, Genoa and Verona will be added.