The top division of Italian football, Series A, is regarded as one of the best football leagues in the world. In this article, I will try to give a review of attendances in this competition in past several decades.
We have to start from somewhere, so let it be – 1960s. That decade is marked with great successes of Italian football, mainly on the club level. AC Milan and Inter got totally 4 European Champions Cups (two for each side). Italian national team managed to become the champion of Europe 1968, but without significant results in the World Cup. In this period, attendance in Series A progressed from 22,000 visitors per league match, to the level of 30,134 in season 1969/70. AC Napoli held the primacy with nearly 70,000 people per match (their best season was 1966/67 when they reached 75,797 spectators). Inter (in their golden age) kept the second place with attendance which varied between 45,000 and 49,000.
During 70s, Italian football didn’t make results in range of their glory. National squad reached the World cup final in 1970, but lost against Brazil. Clubs didn’t shine either – only Juventus got the UEFA Cup in 1977. League attendance stagnated on the level of 30-34,000. Among the most popular clubs (with over 40,000 viewers per match) in this period were Milan, Napoli, Juventus, Lazio, Roma, Inter.
The very beginning of 80s brought a lot of joy to Italian football fans. «Squadra» won the World Cup title in 1982, but in the league, attendance kept at the level of 30,000. Napoli improved this number to 38,000 in season 1984/85. They had 77,600 fans per match, but for a good reason – Maradona had come and that was the start of another golden era of this club.
90s were marked with giants from Milano. AC Milan was on the attendance throne until 1997, with average number of visitors which varied between 56,000 (1996/97) and 75,830 (1992/93 – champions of Italy and runners-up in the Champions League). Then Inter overtook the lead. We must say that these were the years of domination Italian clubs in European football. Milan and Juve won the Champions League, but especially interesting fact is that Italian clubs won 9 out of 11 UEFA cup trophies in period 1989-1999. National team, however didn’t reach any honour, even though they were hosts of the FIFA World Cup 1990. For this occasion, Italian stadiums – often criticized for poor quality, were renovated.
New millennium brought decline to attendance in Italian football, even though Milan and inter succeeded to win UEFA CL, and national team won the World Cup 2006. Football was loaded with numerous scandals as match fixing and club bankruptcies. Attendance declined every year and reached the bottom in 2006/2007 with only 18,473 viewers per match. Even though this was somewhat improved in next couple of years, Italian Series A with around 25,000 spectators per match is behind attendances in Germany, England and Spain.
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