We The Italians | Italian sport: The Minister for sports

Italian sport: The Minister for sports

Italian sport: The Minister for sports

  • WTI Magazine #157 Nov 18, 2022
  • 1005

Italy has always been a nation with a great passion for sports. Even in the days of the ancient Romans, sports games, taken from those of the Greek tradition, generated interest among the people, and the emperors of the time used them to distract citizens and entertain them.

Since the early 1900s, then, sports have always been the focus of Italians' attention. Italy, to take one example, is the only country in Europe and perhaps the world where four newspapers entirely devoted to sports are sold every day: Gazzetta dello Sport, Corriere dello Sport, Tuttosport, and Il Romanista. And in every other newspaper there are pages dedicated to sports, which, often, are the most sought after by readers.

In Italy it is said that there are sixty million soccer coaches, because the passion for this sport is very strong in every person born in the Bel Paese. But the passion is also there for many other sports where Italian athletes excel: motorcycling, swimming, track and field, volleyball, skiing, horseback riding, shooting, archery, tennis, martial arts, and many other sports.

Yet all this interest in sports has never been considered by Italian politics, except in the last century when there was the Fascist dictatorship, which in its twenty years of government took an interest in sports as never before and even afterwards.

Just think that in the sixty-eight governments that there have been from the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946 until today, only in seven of them has a minister of sports been appointed, and until the arrival of the new government last September, only once was a minister appointed who came from the world of sports (the German-Italian Olympic canoeist Josefa Idem), while the others came from other backgrounds and had other competencies.

But now something has changed, and the first right-wing government in the history of the Republic headed by President Giorgia Meloni has decided that sports is as important as other sectors of society and has appointed as minister Andrea Abodi, a manager who comes from the world of sports and has done really important things for the development of sports in Italy during his career.

Born in Rome 62 years ago, Abodi has a degree in economics and specializes academically in industrial sports management and the development of sports marketing activities. At just 27 years old, he became Marketing Director of the Italian office of the U.S. multinational IMG-International Management Group, a leader in the organization and management of events, television rights and sports talent.

At the age of 34 he and some partners founded Media Partners Group, a leading multinational sports industry company, which after success was acquired by the international television rights giant Infront, a company where Abodi became executive vice president until 2002.

He later joined the board of directors of CONI Servizi spa, the state-owned company that governs the financial resources of Italian sports, and in 2009 he was Director General of the Organizing Committee of the final phase of the World Baseball Championships.

He was President of the Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie B soccer league and federal adviser of the Federazione Italiana Gioco Calcio until 2017, leaving the post to assume the Presidency of the Istituto per il credito sportivo, the public bank for the sustainable development of Sport and Culture in Italy. He also serves as Vice President of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport and Special Olympics Italy.

We can say that Italy, thanks to Andrea Abodi's expertise, is preparing to experience a true Renaissance in the world of sports.