Damiano Tommasi’s election the sign of change at the AIC

After 43 years, the Italian Footballer’s Association (AIC) finally has someone else at its helm. Sergio Campana was elected as President of the AIC when it formed in 1968, and as such has been the only individual to hold that title in the organisation’s history. He announced he was stepping down last week (he will remain as Honorary President), and on Monday Damiano Tommasi, the former Roma and Italy midfielder, was elected in his place, beating Vice-President Leonardo Grosso 14-8 in the vote.
Grosso has now left his position with the AIC to concentrate on his role as President of FIFPro. It therefore means there is also a new Vice-President of the AIC in Umberto Calcagno.
It is quite a change for a body that has had the same man at the top for 43 years. Campana (and indeed the AIC itself) have often been used as a metaphor for Italian football’s inability to change with the times, to update and become more contemporary. The election of Tommasi, who at 36-years-old is 40 years Campana’s junior, almost seems like a statement of intent – the AIC is not behind everyone else, and can identify with the modern game.
It is probably Tommasi’s ability to identify with today’s footballers (and vice-versa) that got him elected in the first place. He still plays football in the Italian non-league, and represented Italy at the World Cup in 2002, so he understands the trials and tribulations of the current crop of players. Campana, for all his merits, stopped playing in 1967, when football was a hugely different game to the one today.
He may have hung around for longer than necessary, but Campana deserves much praise for his efforts in establishing, in his own words, a ”professional awareness” and a voice for players. Some may argue that the well-paid stars of Serie A do not need a voice (something which both Campana and Tommasi were eager to refute), but it is worth noting that the AIC represents players from across the Italian professional football system, and amateurs too – some of whom do not have the privileges of the wealthy.
Tommasi naturally aims to provide a continuation of that, as well as implement a few ideas of his own. He wants to see an improvement in the education of young players, keep the players at the centre of the decision making, and will attempt to find solutions to the financial problems that exist in the Lega Pro, which is hitting the low earners hard.
He has the backing of both Campana and Gianni Rivera (one of the players involved in founding the AIC), who both believe he is the right man to take over. Rival candidate Grosso, however, was less than impressed with Tommasi’s plans, stating that he has not presented ”a real and proper programme, but has spoken of a series of principles.”
Only time will tell us if Grosso has made a valid point. For now, the appointment of a new man at the top of the AIC indicates a positive step forward. The AIC has modernised – maybe other aspects of Italian football will now follow suit.

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