What would you guess is the third-largest industry in Italy? Wine? Apparel? the Roman Catholic Church? Housing? Tourism? Automobiles?
According to Aldo Spinelli, quoted in The Economist [$], it is soccer/football.
The level of violence—some of it politically motivated—at Italy’s football grounds is said by the interior minister, Giuliano Amato, to be still rising. Despite this, club presidents have been pressing hard for a re-think on the government’s draconian measures. Ivan Ruggeri, the chairman of one team, Atalanta, said clubs should simply stop playing till the government changed its mind. “Italy’s third-biggest industry cannot be penalised in this way”, stormed Aldo Spinelli, who chairs Livorno, another Serie A side. [emphasis added]
If so, the Italian economy is in big trouble.
Wikipedia lists the following as the major industries in Italy:
tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, automobiles, clothing, footwear, ceramics
Sports, despite our immense interest in them, are small potatoes, economically speaking. The only bright side is the strength of Italian football. With watching sports online growing as a trend, streaming Italian Serie A football online will hopefully allow time for the Italian economy to recover.