Italian football is one of the hardest hit of the recent coronavirus scare. And players are about to play on empty stadiums.
Antonio Conte, Inter boss, said, “Empty stadiums aren’t beautiful.”
Clubs are taking the matter on their own hands. Inter will refund fans who already bought the ticket. Juventus will not do so even for season ticket holders.
These situations are unprecedented. There were several instances when the clubs play empty seats upon empty seats on what appeared to be the biggest stadiums.
Below are some of the reasons behind those unfortunate events.
1) Ticket prices
Juventus had never played on a jampacked home stadium. Selling ~pricey~ tickets is the main struggle, selling up to €160 (£140) apiece. It has always been like this even before Cristiano Ronaldo started playing for the Juve.
The fans are not happy, staging silent protests by skipping the matches on several occasions. It resulted in the rift between the team and the ultras.
The club is known for leaving the 70,000-capacity Stadio Delle Alpi for a 41,000-capacity stadium in 2006. It was purposely built to become the club’s home stadium in 2011.
Where the stadium was built is another issue. It is located in Turin, near Milan, where the majority of season ticket holders live. Also, Turin is not Milan—it’s not as touristy as the latter.
3) Seating error
In 2019, in what had been called the most-watched Women’s World Cup, the mistake made with the seating arrangements resulted in an almost empty stadium.
Fans learned a few moments before the actual tournament that would be seated separately from their families and friends. Some parents would even seat a section away from their children.
FIFA recalled the tickets and reissued the right ones. Adding insult to injury, some fans were unaware of the changes while holding onto their original tickets. They were refused entry until reprints are issued. They missed pretty much the first half of the games and festivities.
Not to mention the expensive ticket prices that nobody wants to buy. FIFA was forced to “allocate” tickets to the fans. That’s on top of the 16% of the total ticket counts as complimentary.
Needless to say, it lacked the atmosphere FIFA used to boast about on posters.
4) Lack of support
In 2019, Arena Gremio was too empty to ignore—it was aa 67,000-capacity stadium.
Sao Paolo captain, Daniel Alves, pointed out clubismo tribalism and the lack of unity between the clubs and the fans as the main culprits.
Alves was unsure if it was because of ticket prices, although Thiago Silva, his teammate, was particular about lowering the expensive ticket prices. Tickets cost €51.97 (£44.50) on average, and yet only 20% of the seats were sold.
True enough, Copa América ticket prices are disproportionate with that of the Women’s World Cup prices. Prices are indeed for the elites.
LANCE! Editor, Valdomiro Neto, said that this was a clear demonstration of “excessive greed.” This is especially true since the value of real, Brazil’s local currency, diminished since the 2015 recession.