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  18/07/2014: Lotito: "My Lazialita' should not be questioned"
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July 19 2004. The day Claudio Lotito took money out of his own pocket and bought S.S. Lazio to become president. To mark the occasion, Italian sports magazine Guerin Sportivo have interviewed the Lazio President to discuss his ten years in charge.

Ten years of joys and sorrows, challenges and victories?

"Good or bad, we won two Italian Cups and a Supercup against Mourinho. In the Primavera, we have the Scudetto as well as the Primavera Coppa Italia after 35 years. I could say Lazio is the team that won in the last five years, more than Napoli or Fiorentina or many others. I remember being contested on the lack of investment in the youth sector, but today we are the top ranked youth side in Italy. I understand that this does not account for much in Rome. The action against me is nothing more than an attempt to destabilise my actions to remove the merchants from the temple [a reference to Jesus Christ who cleared merchants from the temple, believing them to be using his father's house to make money]."

You are alleged to be of "Romanista faith", confirmed by Storace and Mauro Baldissoni who has said "In Roma, everyone knows that".

"Excuse me, who is Baldissoni?"

The general manager of AS Roma.

"Ah, then I would be Romanista. Anyway, look, I never had the pleasure of meeting Baldissoni before I met him in the league. My Lazialita' should not be questioned. I have always been a Lazio fan. I am a Lazio fan since I was five, transferred to me by the boyfriend of my nanny - it was 1961 - and I have always been a Lazio fan. My classmates can verify this, as can the former President of CONI, Petrucci."

The fans have accused you of "delazializzato". It could be useful to bring in a Lazio man, a Nesta or Rocchi. For example, like Di Stefano at Real Madrid?

"My philosophy is not to turn Lazialita' - a way of life - into a system of self-reliance. I do not know, however, if Nesta has the desire to return. And then also, the players do not always have the personal skills to fill some roles. We have a team manager, Maurizio Manzini, who has been with us for 40 years. A period of time that allows him to embody Lazio more than all of us. But if a former player has the quality, we will use him, as that player is part of the history."

For years, things have been getting worse. How will you escape this conflict with the fans?

"I did a healing process, and I am now undergoing a process of revitilisation. I am the owner of S.S. Lazio, but they are the guardians of the values representing Lazio, which must be protected, preserved and handed down, and then it is my duty and my pleasure to make people happy. At this time, I have not done that, and I am sorry. I hope gratitude will eventually come with hard work."

There is a possibility, however remote, of Lazio returning "home" to the Flaminio?

"That does not exist. The question is, if we move stadium, where should we go? In the suburbs or the city?"

In the city centre. Even the Americans [owners of AS Roma] understand that the future can only be downtown.

"They do not understand what a stadium means. There are three problems with the city centre; roads, parking and security. My vision is the model of Disneyland, but instead of Mickey Mouse and co. running around, we have fans, players and the coach. It is a romantic vision of football combined with revenues." 

What does it take to implement a model like Atletico Madrid, whose turnover is not that far away [from Lazio].

"This shows you do not understand the problems. Firstly, Atletico Madrid has 180 million in income and 200 million of debt. Lazio only have 60 million of debt remaining to be paid to the authorities [earlier in the interview, Lotito pointed out that Cragnotti had left the club in 500 million of debt. Lazio pay back 6 million to the authorities every year - the equivalent of a Serie B team's seasonal budget -according to Lotito]. In additions, Atletico players are the property of others, while Lazio players are Lazio players. We have no loans."
Author: Cathal Mullan
 
 
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