Italy coach’s Puma deal sparks fears of conflict of interest
Antonio Conte will earn more than any other Italy coach before him thanks to a deal with kit sponsors Puma, Italian media reported on Friday.
It sparked questions over a possible conflict of interest.
The former Juventus boss was named the new coach of Italy on Thursday on a two-year contract.
He will be paid 3.2 million euros (S$5.3 million) a year – with over half coming from sportswear giant Puma, the reports said.
But Puma’s role in securing Conte for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) — the first time any such deal has been made in Italy — has left many critics fearing the sponsor will wield too much power.
“How will Conte deal with the players who have contracts with the same sponsor who is paying his salary? Who will have the final say when it comes to renewing a contract?” Maurizio Crosetti in La Repubblica asked.
Who will decide?
“Will it be the banana man who will decide? Or Puma’s managing director?” he said in a reference to FIGC president Carlo Tavecchio, who was elected last week despite describing African players as “banana eaters”.
Stefano Semeraro in La Stampa warned that “sport has always been tied up with questions of ethics... but this summer Italian football has had to deal with the interference, real or feared, of commercial interests”.
The concern, he said, is that a coach paid by a sponsor “could favour a colleague of the same brand ahead of an athlete sponsored by someone else”.
Conte’s first match in charge will be on Sept 4 when Italy face the Netherlands in a friendly.