Football restores hope in earthquake-stricken L’Aquila

EPFL CEO leaves heartfelt message of solidarity and support during Lega Pro Conference

Football is being a powerful dynamo in the reconstruction of the Italian city of L’Aquila. In April 2009, a violent earthquake left a deep trail of destruction in Abruzzo’s capital city.  Reports say that more than 300 people lost their lives, with more than 1,500 injured and 65,000 homeless. Three years later, football is helping to restore hope and a sense of community in the region.

Lega Pro is playing a pivotal role in this context, supported by the regions’ football authorities, clubs, supporters associations and media. As part of a series of initiatives fuelled by this Italian League, the innovative project “Stadium without Barriers & Club Supporters’ Trust” football projects for rebuilding L’Aquila? was presented in the city’s auditorium, on the 23rd of July 2012. The project also counts with the support and collaboration of the Ministry of the Interior of Italy and foresees the rebuilding of the local stadium with a modern infrastructure characterised by the abolition of fences which currently separate the football pitch and the stands and a complete renovation of the entire hospitality areas.

The EPFL CEO Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros was one of the keynote speakers. Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, who gave a presentation on how the EPFL is shaping the future of Professional Football in Europe and beyond and praised the work performed by Lega Pro, left also a heartfelt message of solidarity and support to the people of L’Aquila. He said: ?I was born in the Azores, a magic archipelago of volcanic origin, in the middle of the Atlantic, also very vulnerable to earthquakes.  Believe me when I say I can imagine what you feel and what you have gone through. I extend you a sincere word of solidarity for the losses of your dear ones, your homes and businesses. But also a word of true respect and admiration for your unbreakable determination to overcome the adversity and a word of strong incentive for what you all are doing, also through football, to turn a new page in your lives and bring back hope to this community”.

On the occasion, Lega Pro President Mario Macalli stated: “When we thought about how to overturn the crisis situation of our  football, we immediately placed the challenge of transforming our stadiums in a peaceful and welcoming place for everybody as main priority. “Stadium without Barriers and Club Supporters’ Trust” are two ideas jointly developed by L’Aquila Calcio and Lega Pro. The overwhelmed city of L’Aquila was the first to accept this challenge and we are proud to have worked with them in this pioneering initiative. Perugia, Catanzaro and Cremona are other successful example of best practices in this League’s project which we hope to spread all over Italy”.

“We are honoured to have received praising words from the President of the Republic of Italy Giorgio Napolitano who stressed the joint spirit of solidarity and civil commitment.” Macalli concluded.

The high level event was chaired by Lega Pro President Mario Macalli and also counted with the participation of Francesco Ghirelli (Lega Pro CEO), Corrado Chiodi (L’Aquila Calcio President), Massimo Cialente (L’Aquila Major), Luca Pancalli (Italian Olympic Committee Vice-President and Italian Paralympic Committee President), Antonia Hagemann (Supporter Trust Head of European Development), Roberto Massucci (Italian Sports Observatory Vice-President, Ministry of the Interior of Italy), Licia Pellegrino (responsible for Lega Pro’s International Department), Giovanni Spitaleri (FIGC Head of Security and Infrastructure) and Vittorio Angelaccio (Lega Pro Head of Marketing), among many others.

Read the Programme of the Conference

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