ROME - It was once a base for one of
Italy's most feared mafia organisations but now a field in
Calabria is set to become a training ground for the national football team as they push towards Euro 2012 qualification.
The land in Rizziconi - confiscated from the 'Ndrangheta
criminal organisation in 2003 - is likely to play host to the
Azzurri for training sessions in August, October or November,
the Italian football federation said in a statement.
The symbolic move is an attempt to show Italy is winning its
fight as a nation again mafia organisations.
On Wednesday, federation officials examined the facility,
which has been converted into five-a-side pitches where 120
children between six and 14 play football.
Rizziconi, at the end of Italy's 'boot' has long been a
centre of activity for the powerful 'Ndrangheta with the city
council dissolved in 2001 because of the group's infiltration.
"The national team coming brings great hope and
encouragement for all young people in the area who are looking
to turn the corner," Pino De Masi, regional representative for
anti-mafia group Libera, told reporters.
Italy, who have their national headquarters in the lush
green fields of Tuscany, are five points clear in Group C and
within touching distance of reaching next year's finals in
Poland and Ukraine.
Their next qualifier is in the Faroe Islands on September 2.
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