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italy – best league in the world?

Posted by markleb on September 26, 2009

Italian volleyball has taken a bit of a hit in the last few years. The performance of it’s National Team has been in decline for the last four or five years and it’s reputation for having the best and most important league was already clearly diminished (no Russians, few Brazilians, no Miljkovic, more and more of the best players playing outside Italy, TV company pulling out) even before the events of the last months.

To cut a long story short (also because I don’t know the details), one club, Pineto, was kicked out of the league during the summer due to some irregularities in procuring the licence from Milano for the previous season.  In it’s place, Forli’, who were relegated at the end of the season, were given a reprieve and a place in A1 for 2009-10.  Although this took place very late in the summer, technically after the market closed, Forli’ were very excited and announced as their first big signing, Paul Carroll. They managed to fit together a few more pieces of a team and were ready for the season.

In the meantime, Pineto appealed the decision of the league to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI, which has ultimate sporting power in Italy).  Eventually CONI passed down it’s decision.  The league were wrong to replace Pineto, and they should have their place back in the league.  Pineto were very excited and announced their first big signing, Nathan Roberts. They subsequently signed a few other players from the ones who were left over from the official market and Forli’s signings.

So, a dilemma.  Three weeks before the start of the season there were suddenly 15 teams with the ‘right’ to participate in the 14 team league.  All schedules were abandoned as they tried to figure out what to do.  There were three possibilities.  They could keep 15 teams, they could kick out Forli’ or they could go against CONI and kick out Pineto.  The early money was on a 15 team league, but no quick decision was forthcoming.  Last weekend was the presentation of the league with the Supercup (between the league winners and cup winners) and still no decision.  During the meetings around the Supercup, they did make one decision: the league would begin on September 27th.

All week there has been no news.  On the league website there was no program and not even a list of teams who are participating in the league.  All day Friday 25th, no news until 4pm.  The announcement was made that Forli’ will go down to A2 and Pineto will play A1, in a 14 team league.

So Devo’s breathless news that there will be 3 Australians playing in A1 turned out to be a little premature.  There will be two, Dan Howard and Nathan Roberts.  And 1 in A2.  And Italian volleyball takes another hit.

There is a quite good article in Italian entitled “Italian Volleyball reopens the ‘Culture of Excuses” written just after the European Championships debacle.  I can’t imagine what an auto translate will make out of it, but there it is…

UPDATE – Oddly Forli’ aren’t entirely happy with the latest decision.  They have filed an appeal, including an injunction to delay the start of the Championships.  That decision will be made today.

UPDATE 2 – The court ruled to postpone the two matches including Forli’ and Pineto, with a final judgement to be handed down on Tuesday.  The rest of the matches will take place as programmed.

16 Responses to “italy – best league in the world?”

  1. Murph said

    One would imagine Paul Carroll will be EVER so annoyed at this…

    • markleb said

      I’m reasonably sure he had not envisaged playing Globo Banca Popolare Del Frusinate Sora in his first match in Italy.
      On the bright side, he will win more matches.

  2. Murph said

    Seria A2…Better or worse than college ball? How does it compare to other leagues?

    • markleb said

      There are certainly European leagues that are comparable to US college or worse but A2 is better. A2 has traditionally been stronger than many other countries first divisions. It hasn’t been as strong for a few years now, but it is a very tough and very competitive league. A lot of teams are of a comparable level and it is tough to win. And with 16 teams it is a very long season.
      One of the interesting points for this season (apart from who the hell is going to be playing) is that Andrea Giani and Luca Cantagalli (both members of the Italian ‘Golden Generation’) will be coaching in A2.

      • Murph said

        I was going to ask about coaching…Is the A2 the breeding ground for young Italian coaches? What quality of people are there to help guys like Paul?

        • markleb said

          I’ve written before that throughout European leagues things, including coaching, are wildly variable. There are good situations and bad situations and good coaches and bad coaches and everything in between.
          To generalise, Italian A2 can be a breeding ground for coaches BUT the most significant point is that professional leagues are results oriented (as distinct from performance oriented) and individual player development is rarely a priority. Even coaches who are inclined to help individuals often have short term, results driven imperatives (and short term contracts) that restrict what they are able (or feel able) to do. Practice is normally directed towards preparing players for the next match physically and tactically, with technical training the third priority.

  3. devo said

    The site markleb rfers to has its own translator (flag at top of page) but I can’t get it to work on the page we want.

    The google translation

  4. devo said

    The only sport happening here is watching the lawyers carrying their money to the bank!

  5. Bummer. Why did it have to get bad as soon as we got some of our best players into it? Whoever out of Paul or Nathan who misses out, surely they’d get picked up for A1 by another team next season?

    I’m still bloody proud these guys have been picked up in Italy!

    • markleb said

      We’ve had three guys in A1 before, so it’s not a first.
      Who plays where next season is entirely dependent on what happens this season. Players who have good seasons go to better clubs, players who have bad seasons go to worse clubs. But they do have the advantage that other Italian clubs will get to know them well. But on the other side, if you read the article, maybe they will play well enough that they don’t HAVE TO play in Italy next season :)

  6. Steve said

    Roughly how much would these guys be getting? Or if that is too crass what does the average player get in Italy A1 / A2?

    • markleb said

      The only thing I can say for sure is that Giba was reported in the press to have had a contract in Russia worth 600,000euros per season. What players actually earn and what an average might be is difficult to know.

  7. Murph said

    Someone told me that Dan Howard was on 500,000 including sponsorship deals…No clue about the truth of that though…

  8. Curious said

    Just out of curiousity, given that Paul Carolls team prepared to play in the top division and now they are going to play in the lower division… What does this mean for team sponsor ship etc, Would theire budget be significantly reduced?? And with it the salary of coaches and players etc?

    Seems crazy to think that a couple of weeks before the sheduled start of a major professional league they have changed teams playing etc… Imagine this sort of thing happening in the AFL or a major soccer league in Europe…

    • markleb said

      A couple of DAYS before the season…
      It is pretty crazy, but there was a case in England a couple of years ago where one team appealed against relegation (the Carlos Tevez case) but I don’t know if there was actually any danger of something happening there.
      As for sponsors and contracts etc, you would expect that sponsors pay less for A2 than A1 and that contracts are less in A2 than A1, Given the overall situation you would also expect that the clubs were prepared for all eventualities and prepared their contracts accordingly. But I’ve learnt over the last few years that things are rarely ‘as you would expect’ them. It’s impossible to know.

      • Murph said

        Yeah the Carlos Tevez situation was settled after the season started in the end…Also Juventus (italian football this time) being kicked out for match fixing a few years back was not settled until very late. Liverpool being allowed into the 2005 Champions League was also decided late, they got given a qualification spot that they didn’t earn in the end.

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