Beckenbauer: Italian football in decline
Bayern Munich and Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer has offered a stark assessment of the state of Italian football, claiming the stadiums are not good enough and that players are no longer attracted by the prospect of playing in Serie A.
From the 2012-13 season, Serie A will have just three Champions League places, while the Bundesliga will have four, after Germany took an insurmountable lead over Italy in the UEFA co-efficients rankings that decide the number of spots allocated to each country in European competition.
This comes despite Italy boasting the current European champions in Inter Milan, though the Nerazzurri face an uphill battle to retain their trophy after losing at home to Bayern in their last-16 first leg.
Serie A leaders AC Milan were eliminated from the Champions League at the hands of Tottenham last week, as were Roma after falling to Shakhtar Donetsk. There are no Italian teams in the last-16 of the Europa League.
"Before, everybody wanted to play in Serie A, but this is clearly no longer the case," Beckenbauer said on Calcio Mercato.
"I think that stadiums play a big role in the decline of Italian football. The stadiums they have are simply not good enough. Italian football needs a big international tournament to freshen things up a bit."
The last raft of new stadia in Italy came when the country hosted the 1990 World Cup, though a number of clubs have expressed a desire to upgrade their home grounds.
Inter and Roma have signalled their intention to move out of the San Siro and Stadio Olimpico respectively, leaving rivals AC Milan and Lazio as sole residents, while the Juventus Arena is set to be opened this year as the Bianconeri's ultra-modern new home.
Italian football attendances have been among the worst in Europe for many years, though it's estimated that new stadiums can increase attendances by up to 50%.