Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pancalli lands FIGC post

Luca Pancalli has been appointed as the new Commissioner of the Italian Football Federation in place of Guido Rossi.

Pancalli is the head of the Italian Paralympic Committee and was voted unanimously by the Italian Olympic Commitee (CONI) council, who were called to find a new chief for the Italian football governing body after Rossi was forced to leave.

The former Commissioner became the head of Telecom Italia last week and it immediately became clear that he could not hold both posts, thus choosing to resign along with his assistants.

Pancalli, a 42-year-old Roman lawyer and also deputy Vice-President of the Italian Olympic Committee, was a promising pentathlete before a horse riding accident led to him being wheelchair-bound from the age of 17. He then dedicated himself to the sports for the disabled and was an excellent swimmer, winning 16 medals at the Paralympics and 10 medals in the World Championship.

“I am a man of sport and I believe in the rules,” said Pancalli to La Gazzetta dello Sport before his new role was formalised. “The job done by Rossi will not be wasted and there will be no delays in the process to renovate Italian football. Football is not only a business but also a sport and I will do all I can to bring it back to its old values. How long will I stay in place? It’s too early to say.”

The new man at the top of Italian football has promised that he will bring back serenity to the Italian game. “I want to thank CONI President Gianni Petrucci for choosing me, I can’t hide that I am very excited,” said Pancalli after his unanimous election.

“As a sportsman I am honoured at the trust that the council has given me, nominating me to guide the Football Federation which represents a very important part of Italy’s sport. I will face this adventure with dedication and commitment. I am used to facing challenges, and my main objective is to bring back the serenity we lost during the summer. I ask the media to help me with this. There has to be space for everyone to speak, that is the only way. I hope that Francesco Saverio Borrelli (head of the Investigating Office) will reconsider his resignation and that he will still be part of this team, continuing this challenging journey next to our side. I do not fear the hostility of the footballing world, I think that the time for words has ended and we now need facts.”

In his resignation letter, Rossi said he had "gradually realised", during his four-month stint, that "everything (or almost everything) was against real renewal". Rossi resigned without putting forward the keenly awaited proposals for Italian football reform he had been working on. These reportedly included ways to rein in spending and better regulate the transfer and TV rights markets, possibly via a new government authority. The task of drafting reforms will now fall to the new chief.

CONI President Gianni Petrucci confirmed that Pancalli’s mandate will end on February 28, 2007 in order to give him the time to rewrite the regulation and proceed to new elections.

Meanwhile Gigi Riva, who is currently the team manager of the Italian national team, was appointed as Federal Vice-Commissioner as was Massimo Coccia, who was chosen by Rossi to rewrite the game’s regulations.


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