Serie A: Juve will lead Serie A revival

Serie A: Juve will lead Serie A revival
Fans celebrating Juventus’ 32nd league title in Turin even though the official record said 30.

1. It's rare that Italian clubs venture to Asia during pre-season. Why have Juventus decided to take that step?

Calvo: Italian clubs are very reluctant to go East during pre-season, because Italians are quite conservative, and football is no exception. We always try to go to places that have the same climate and temperature as Italy.

For Juventus, it's not enough to just be in Italy. We want to modernise, and be on the same level as the top European clubs.

We had always been a top club until 2006. We were among the top three in terms of the size of our fan base, the same level as Manchester United and Real Madrid. Then in 2006 we had the Calciopoli (match-fixing scandal) and the resulting blackout (from Europe) for five years.

Now, we have to recover. We believe we have the tools in place to recover, and going to Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, where we are also loved by everybody, is one way to do that.

2. The club bounced back quickly from the Calciopoli scandal with three Serie A titles in a row since 2011. What's the secret to the success of the "Grand Old Lady"?

The secret is 117 years of history and 91 years under the same ownership - the Agnelli family.

In 91 years, we won 32 Scudetto (*30 is the official tally, after the Calciopoli affair disqualified Juventus from two titles in 2005 and 2006.)

The focus is not always on football, but as a business.

Twenty years ago, when the game became more professional, Juventus operated more as a company than just a football club.

Then there's also the winning tradition, the need for results on and off the field.

In 2007, we were in the second division, but came back very quickly to Serie A.

In mid-2010, our chairman Andrea Agnelli took over, and he took on a very strong approach to bring Juventus back to glory.

3. Juventus are the richest club in Italy, and widely perceived to be the only rich club in the country. How have the club managed to sustain that?

As much as there is a focus to win, there is also (priority) on being financially stable.

The top leagues - the English Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga - have grown in the last seven, eight years in terms of turnover by 10 to 15 per cent. Serie A has grown by seven per cent.

That's the mirror of Italy as a country. It has been struggling to innovate and develop - and so the same for the football clubs. Look at the infrastructure; Italian clubs are using the same stadiums from the 1990 World Cup.

Stadiums are a source of revenue, but more importantly, they are the fans' perception of the club. The new Juventus Stadium (opened in 2011) changed the perception our fans had of us. It made them proud. The stadium also changed the way we interacted with our fans. It is not of 80,000 capacity, only 40,000 - but Turin is not London or Barcelona or Rome.

4. Do you think Serie A can bounce back and be No. 1 in Europe?

Football is a cycle. Now it is a cycle of the Premier League and the Bundesliga.

Serie A knows what to do. It is, in a way, tradition in Italy to start from the bottom before rebuilding again.

You see that with the Italian teams at the World Cup; winners in 1982 and 2006 (laughs).

Serie A can recover. I think it's important for Serie A to have regained the leadership of Juventus.

If you ask me how many years it will take, maybe five to 10 years to catch up with the Premier League, which is the benchmark. Juventus will have a big role to play in that.

5. Singapore billionaire Peter Lim recently bought a majority stake in La Liga's Valencia. Do you think that sort of investment can help Serie A clubs? Will they be open to it?

In Italy, it has happened with Roma and Inter Milan. Roma have American owners and Inter have an Indonesian, Erik Thohir, as a majority stakeholder.

Italy, as I've said before, has been very conservative towards foreign investment. But such investments are an opportunity, for sure.

Juventus are run by a family which has a global business. AC Milan is the same with (Silvio) Berlusconi.

But for other clubs, it would be extremely useful to have such investors.

When you bring different experiences and different methodologies to one place, it's a positive thing - because not everything we do is perfect.

6. Racism has been prevalent in the Italian game. Why is it a big problem in Serie A?

It's a problem everywhere. All the countries face it.

Here, of course, we take it very seriously. But, it must be said that sometimes the media make something out of nothing.

Of course, sometimes, the messages from the media turns into a positive one, like the banana incident with Dani Alves in Spain. That (produced) positive results for everyone, I think.

On the part of Juventus, we have currently two projects with Unesco - projects of integration with children from all over the world, to tell them what the club are about.

The message we deliver through football is very important.

Italy is not the best country (when it comes to) racism, but we are not the worst, either.

This article was published on May 21 in The New Paper.

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