Milan: Italian football will soon be dying if it does not overcome its deep-rooted structural problems, Juventus president Andrea Agnelli said on Friday.
"We are in progressive decline," he told a shareholders` meeting in Turin.
"Italian football will soon be dying if it is unable to face up to a double challenge: on the domestic front the fans have to fill up the stadiums, and abroad the challenge of a truly global market."
"England, Germany and Spain have overtaken us in any number of criteria, revenue, sustainability of the business, sporting results, the value of their stadium and the UEFA ranking," he said.
"Today, we are struggling to defend fourth place from Portugal," he added, referring to the coefficients which determine how many places each country is allocated in the Champions League and Europa League.
"Our main competitors Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Barcelona have clearly moved ahead of us," said Agnelli.
"No Italian club is in a state where they can grow at that rhythm, the sign of the structural limits which affect our football."
"Ten years ago, Serie A generated almost the same receipts as the Bundesliga, a little less than La Liga and almost a third of the Premier League. Then, we were a tortoise, now we are a shrimp."
No Italian team has progressed beyond the Champions League quarter-finals since Inter Milan won the trophy in 2010 and there has been an exodus of big-name players, culminating in Zlatan Ibrahimovic`s departure from AC Milan two years ago.
Nowadays, Serie A teams tend to attract players who have fallen out of favour at bigger clubs, such as Juventus forward Carlos Tevez and AC Milan`s Fernando Torres, or young foreign players hoping to use it as a springboard to another league.
Juve are the only Serie A club who own their own stadium while others play in often dilapidated municipally-owned arenas.
Agnelli said the election of Carlo Tavecchio as Italian federation president in August was another sign of the problems.
Tavecchio, 71, was chosen despite referring to African players as "banana eaters" in a speech and has been banned from any UEFA-related activity for six months by European soccer`s governing body over his remarks.
"His election has ignored the indications of footballers, coaches, referees and a substantial part of Series A," said Agnelli.
"It was a defeat for many people and a victory for some crafty characters, whose consensus was born in a time from long ago.
"I am convinced that the conservative forces in Italian football, which seem to prevail at the moment to protect small and large special interests and personal incomes, will not be able to stifle those who support the change."