Italian sports calls to halt ‘Decree restrictions’ but government won’t listen

Leadership of Italian sports has urged the government to restore betting advertising for a 12-month period to support professional leagues, sports clubs, athletes and relevant stakeholders navigate COVID-19 disruptions.

The call for a temporary suspension of Dignity Decree provisions on gambling advertising and sponsorship has been led by LEGA Serie A governance.

Since July 2019, all Italian sports leagues have been forced to abide by the Decree’s mandate prohibiting all gambling-related sponsorships and advertising partnerships.

The Dignity Decree’s mandate was originally formed by the former Lega-5Star coalition government taking office in July 2018, establishing a ‘new civic contract’ for Italian business and society.

Despite lasting less than a year in government, the Lega-5Star coalition imposed ‘Europe’s strictest code on gambling’ – with Decree advertising restrictions maintained by the current PM Giuseppe Conte administration.

Last week, Italian media reported that Serie A leadership had urged the Conte government to drop Decree restrictions, stating that Italian football clubs needed help in finding ‘post-crisis business solutions’.

Crying foul of Decree conditions, Serie A governance underlined its stated position that Italian football will be denied a €100 million in vital revenues from betting sponsorship and advertising.

Serie A’s call was supported by Giovanni Malagò, Chairman of Italy’s Olympic Committee, who told media: “We are in an emergency and instead of asking for money, it is appropriate to restart any potential marketing action with the betting companies. I have always been totally against the ban, which weakened our teams and our sports facilities.”

Since its enforcement, criticism of the Decree’s advertising and sponsorship prohibition has been far-reaching. Italian media agency AGCOM clashed with Lega-5Star on policy conditions, branding certain measures as ‘unconstitutional and incompatiblewith Italian business laws.

Despite all-round pleas for the Decree to be suspended, PM Giuseppe Conte leads a fractured coalition formed by Italy’s Democratic Party and the anti-gambling 5Star Movement.

Coalition terms dictated by 5Star underline that a Conte government must maintain gambling measures established by the Dignity Decree as an immutable condition governing Italy.

Speaking in Parliament, 5Star member Francesco Silvestri reiterated his party’s position to Italian sports’ request by saying: “The 5Star Movement has always been against gambling, as well as gaming advertising. For us, there is no way to step back from the ban.”

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