There is no comparison between the performance of Italian athletes and the performance rankings of Italian sport in terms of contribution to GDP and employment. While swimmers, fencers, volleyball players and volleyball players (for the players it is better to postpone for now waiting for better times, but a European on the bulletin board last year the Azzurri of Roberto Mancini still have it) reap victories and get on the podiums on time of continental and / or world championship events, Italy struggles in the economic and professional rankings of the EU.
The continental framework
If it is true that sport in Italy, in 2019, generated a production value of about 24.5 billion euros and 420 thousand employees, as found in the study by the ICS (Institute for Sports Credit) “The GDP of Sport” , in the ranking relating to the percentage contribution of sport to the value of national GDP, Italy does not go beyond the fourteenth place with 1.32%. Unattainable Austria (4.1%) and Germany (3.9%), Italy also has to chase after Poland, Great Britain and France, but is even worse than Cyprus, Malta, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Croatia and travels on the same level as Slovakia. It goes even worse in the ranking of Sport’s contribution to national employment. Here Italy of Sport slips to nineteenth place with 1.76%. Also in this case, Austria and Germany dominate, reaching 5.6% and 4.6% respectively in the year before the outbreak of the pandemic. The pre-Brexit UK was up 3.75%. However, not only the Sport Industries of countries such as France and Poland, but also those of Estonia, Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg, surpass Italian sport in the capacity to create jobs.
It must be said that these data, the latest available, elaborated on information made public by the European Commission in 2018, date back to 2012 (and this is already a symptom of an underestimation of the importance of the sports economy) and, therefore, it is hoped that in the past decade Italy has climbed some positions. Also because they go against the trend not only with the competitive performances of the blue teams, but also with respect to the excellences that the Italian commercial manufacturer can express. Faced with an audience of companies in the sports industry lower than that of the other main competitors in the Old Continent, companies resident in Italy have in fact “systematically in the last decade, a significantly higher value, both in terms of turnover and the value of production industrial for sport ». In particular, the production value of the manufacturing industry in 2019 was equal to 3.5 billion in Italy, 2.1 in Germany, 1.8 in France and 1.1 in the United Kingdom and 0.8 in Spain.
Mass sports practice
The real vulnerability is that of mass sports which in Italy is still too far below the potential of the country. Despite the very slight growth recorded in 2019 compared to the previous year in the share of the population of at least three years of age who continuously plays one or more sports, this only reaches 26 per cent. For the population between three and 17 years of age, this share is instead 52%, reflecting a habit that is lost during growth and for which the ICS report speaks of a sort of “juvenile disease of sport “. It is therefore necessary to launch policies aimed at “triggering a leap capable of bridging a clear delay in sporting practice compared to European data”.