After the avalanche of misleading and inaccurate reports across several media outlets, released by authoritative commentators and professionals in the world of communication, I deem it necessary to clarify the Luciano Spalletti situation with regard to his possible appointment as the national-team coach of Italy.

I’ve always had huge respect for the national team and when I was young, it was the only team besides Napoli that I was passionate about.

Despite having a year remaining on his contract with Napoli, after winning the Scudetto, Spalletti expressed his desire to have some time off away from coaching given that he was “very tired”. As recognition of the sterling job that he had done, I did not bat an eyelid even though I could have asked him to respect his contract. I therefore gave him the chance to have an extended period of rest.

I subsequently went on the hunt for a coach who could replace Spalletti and who had the right sort of experience and was of suitable standing. I am thrilled to have brought in Rudi Garcia and I am sure he will do a wonderful job here.

Going back to Spalletti, having listened to the wishes and feelings of the millions of Napoli fans who feel a strong connection with the coach that led our team to the Italian title, while giving him the chance not to fulfil his contract, I asked for guarantees that he would respect this sabbatical, including a penalty in the event of his commitment wavering.

With regard to the Italian Football Federation, having looked at the current issue, what astonishes me the most is that we are now just a few weeks away from two crucial games for Italy with Roberto Mancini handing in his resignation at this point. There are two main considerations to factor in: relationships are not being maintained with coworkers, leading to them resigning while the necessary legal tools are missing in order to keep them by ensuring contracts are respected, with recourse to specific penalties if required.

If the choice falls with Spalletti, and rightly so, as a brilliant coach with 25 years’ experience at the top level behind him, whose Napoli side played the best football in Europe last season, and you offer him a net annual salary of €3 million for three years, you should not be put off by having to pay €1 million gross per year on the coach’s behalf to free him from his contractual obligations (a commitment not only to Napoli, but also to the club’s millions of fans). This is all incoherent.

Admittedly, €3 million is not a lot to Calcio Napoli and even less to me, but the question in this case is not about the “almighty dollar”, but a matter of principle instead. This does not purely affect Calcio Napoli, but the entire Italian football system, which needs to get rid of its amateurish attitude in order to face up to challenges while respecting the rules of businesses, limited companies and the market itself.

As long as the “rule” remains an “exception”, the football system will be unable to evolve and we will continue to witness cases like this one and “authoritative” commentators who do not know how to manage businesses healthily will continue to express their views.

Aurelio De Laurentiis

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