Presidents of Italy’s female clubs have recently held a meeting to discuss the future of Liga A1. The most important topics of conversation were the league’s rules regarding foreign players signings and FIVB’s international calendars, as the clubs did not want to participate and loan players to international squads in certain competitions that conflict with A1’s schedule.
Our readers will recall that Bruno Cattaneo, FIPAV’s president, had originally declared that Italy’s bad result in the 2017 Women’s CEV European Championships had left a bitter taste in his mouth, and that it would be in the the best interest of Italian volleyball to reduce the number of foreign players in the female national championships at its two top tier leagues (A1 and A2). According to him, this would help to thwart an ironic logic, as foreign players come to Italy to develop their skills and careers, and later help their national teams eliminate Italy’s squad in international competitions:
“There is so much disappointment regarding the elimination from the European Championship, it still burns. It was not foreseeable, especially if we look at the Grand Prix and World Cup Qualifying results. For the next 3-4 years we have to decrease the number foreigners in the league. Each team will be allowed to have two foreigners in their roster instead of the usual three. Consider the Netherlands, who knocked us out of the CEV European Championships, almost all of its athletes play or have played in Italy, so we have to do something about the presence of too many foreigners in our league.”
Catteaneo’s suggestion has been met with vehement opposition from most of A1’s clubs, their representatives stating that such a rule would lead to many sponsors threatening to leave clubs, according to Gazzetta.it (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3):
“I believe that everyone can see it tHt Italian teams are well represented in Europe. Our Championship is, if not the best in the world, among the most beautiful in the world. Investors who look out for volleyball and continue to do so are essential, given the huge costs involved in participating in the Champions League. We live a beautiful moment, which risks being ruined by a wrong reform. We want to be allowed to continue to work to give satisfaction to sponsors and fans. Otherwise it would not make sense to take part in European competitions: if you can not compete, it would not be worth investing so many resources.” Piero Garbellotto , co-president of Imoco Volley Conegliano
“The current formula has allowed us to find a perfect balance to improve the quality A1’s quality, to compete at the European level, and at the same time to grow young Italian players. In the Champions League, we are inserted in a very difficult group. If Conegiano and us are able to advance in the competition, eliminating Fenerbahce, one of the richest teams in Europe, it is thanks to the rules now in force, which allow us to measure ourselves on a par with the best formations on the continent. Reducing foreigners would be a resounding own goal from all points of view: it would ensure a place in the teams to Italian athletes not for the technical skills but for the imposition of a rule and the average quality level of league would be lowered, resulting in the loss of sponsors.” Enrico Marchioni, Novara‘s general manager.
Regarding FIVB’s International calendar, representatives of seven clubs (Conegliano, Novara, Scandicci, Busto Arsizio, Monza, Modena, and Florence) met directly with a representative from FIVB to discuss the matter at hand. In the encounter, the FIVB presented the Italian clubs wth Hypercube, a Dutch business innovation company that the federations has entrusted with the redefinition of the international calendar. The meeting ended with the mutual promise to continue to work together in order to share a definitive solution to be submitted to the FIVB itself and to the individual National Confederations.