The Olympic stadium in Rome hosted the first edition of the “Valore Sport Observatory” Forum organized by The European House-Ambrosetti, with over 40 speakers at various roundtables or for a forum on the revitalization of the sports sector. In addition to the Managing Partner & CEO of The European House – Ambrosetti Valerio De Molli, who presented the research and proposals to relaunch the sports sector, the highest institutional sports officials also took part: the President of Coni Giovanni Malagò, the President and CEO of Sport and Health Vito Cozzoli, the President of the Istituto Credito Sportivo Antonella Baldino and the President of the Cip Luca Pancalli. Also present were the undersecretaries Marcello Gemmato (Ministry of Health), Paola Frassinetti (Ministry of Education and Merit), Tullio Ferrante (Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport).
Numerous topics discussed. Starting from the analysis of sport practice in Italy, the Observatory wanted to analyze the phenomenon of sedentary lifestyle and its impact on individual and collective health and well-being, the economic and employment impact of the extended sport chain and the state of infrastructural accessibility and economic to sport throughout the Italian territory. The insights of the Observatory started from an all-Italian paradox. 2021 was the record year of Italian competitive sport: Italy positioned itself as the 2nd country in the world after the United States and ahead of China for number of podiums in official sporting competitions both considering the Olympics (absolute record of medals in Tokyo), both the world and continental championships, reaching 283 podiums and generating great enthusiasm, consensus and unity among Italian citizens.
Given the high media attention that the victories of the Azzurri athletes continue to produce and the passion with which Italians follow competitive and Olympic sports, it would be reasonable to also expect a high daily sporting activity by the population. From the available data, however, it emerges that sport in Italy is more watched than practiced.
According to the census of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Italy ranks as the 4th most sedentary OECD country among adults (44.8% of the population does not meet the physical activity guidelines recommended by the ‘WHO) and 1st among children (94.5% of the total does not reach the recommended levels). Specifically, the various socio-demographic characteristics also affect the spread of sporting practice in Italy: the most sedentary are residents of the South (+23.7 pp compared to the North), women (+4.6 pp compared to men), those who belong to the least well-off economic bracket (+17.2 pp compared to the richest income quintile), those with an elementary school diploma or no educational qualifications (+34.4 pp compared to university graduates) and the over 65s (+30.2 pp compared to the 6-24 age group). A sedentary lifestyle which, in turn, determines an impressive health cost due to the pathologies caused (above all, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes), estimated by the Observatory’s analyzes at 3.8 billion euros per year.
At an economic level, expenditure dedicated to sport was the object of analysis: Italy is the sixteenth country in the EU-27 for public expenditure dedicated to sport per inhabitant, with a value of 73.6 Euros per capita, 38% in less than the EU-27 average. Finally, sport activates a multiplicity of industrial and service chains, producing an added value (i.e. the contribution to the GDP) of 24.5 billion euros (1.4% of the national GDP) and employing 420,000 people. The Observatory’s analyzes also focused on the dimension of accessibility, understood both as infrastructural and as economic. The conditions of the national sports infrastructures are not in line with those of the other main European countries and are not suitable for promoting the diffusion of sporting practice in the population. Suffice it to say that the country ranks third from last in the European Union for the incidence of investments dedicated to sport on total public expenditure.
The result is an obsolete infrastructural heritage, with 60% of the sports facilities built more than 40 years ago, and with a much lower endowment than the European benchmark countries (131 facilities for every 100,000 inhabitants, compared to the 250 facilities on average in the main European countries and almost 600 in Finland, the country, not surprisingly, which also has the best figure for the share of the active population). The condition does not improve by looking at schools, where 6 out of 10 school buildings in Italy are not equipped with a gym, generating a huge gap in accessibility to sports for children.
The Valore Sport Observatory, having analyzed the main problems, has consequently elaborated six policy macro-proposals: I. Definition of a long-term vision “2050 – Italy in Movement” with a roadmap of shared objectives to be declined with the guiding principle of Sport in all policies; II. Increase in investments destined for sports facilities, their efficiency and innovation in the sector; III. Provision of systems for detecting and monitoring the (multi) dimensions of sports practice and the wider sector; IV. Stimulating the offer and demand for sport through tax leverage and the simplification of bureaucratic procedures; V. Promotion of an active lifestyle in schools and workplaces; YOU. Activation of a multilevel training, awareness and communication strategy on the benefits of sport.
For each of these six policy macro-areas, the report prepared by the Observatory follows a series of concrete action recommendations, supported by the reasons why it is necessary to pay attention to the topic in question, by some national and international benchmarks and, where possible, by an estimate of the expected impacts deriving from the implementation of the proposed actions. Indeed, the analysis clearly shows how sport is capable of producing significant repercussions in various dimensions of the country-system (economic, health, social) and therefore how a systemic and strategic intervention is necessary which involves all the stakeholders, both institutional and not, to build a holistic view.
“The Sport Observatory’s vision for 2050 is certainly very ambitious, but we believe that with targeted policies, to be implemented also involving all the various Ministries that govern aspects directly or indirectly impacted by sport, it is possible to halve the phenomenon of sedentary lifestyle in the next 30 years declared Valerio De Molli-. In doing so, we estimated that the country would benefit from cumulative savings in health care costs in the period 2022-2050 of 32.5 billion euros thanks to the prevention of diseases and health gains for the population and a cumulative growth in GDP of 134 billions of euros thanks to the relaunch of the sports chain”.
“The country’s problems are many, but how much has the Pnrr given to sport? One billion to the sports sector. We are at 0.5% of the approximately 209 billion total. We are the first in many sports but we are in shambles with gyms and plant engineering, this already makes you understand that we are not there. Then of this billion, 700 million were given to the system and 300 million to plant engineering. What comes out is embarrassing about implants. Those who were there either weren’t capable, which I think, or didn’t have the tools to do something different. But of those 700 million, we are the country, the state, a public body, of these 700 million Coni has not received a single euro from the Pnrr”, said the president of Coni, Giovanni Malagò, during the “Forum Osservatorio Valore Sport ” “How is it possible that we are among the first for sports results despite being so affected by regulatory measures? Those results won’t be made again, I’ve already said it. If we don’t change birth rate policies, it’s impossible to do them again. Unless we accelerate a lot in other sectors, obviously starting with the issue of plant engineering”.
“Having a common horizon, for the country and for Sport is what Sport and Health has also been working on for 3 years on the recommendation of the Government. The latest Eurobarometer study shows us how Italy has gone from fifth to last to 16th place in the ranking of the most active countries in Europe. A first significant step forward, towards a change of course towards an active and healthy country and this despite the Pandemic. The goal is to overtake Finland, with 92 percent of the active population”, underlined the president and CEO of Sport and Health Vito Cozzoli. “I thank Valerio De Molli and The European House Ambrosetti for wanting to involve Sport and Health as protagonists in the Valore Sport Observatory project. I greet the guests, the speakers and the many friends who are present today at the Stadio Olimpico, the temple of Italian sport and an asset of Sport and Health, which we are enhancing more and more, including through the Tour of the Stadium, an experience that many of you today they will finish the work of the conference”, added Cozzoli.
“For years there has been a total ‘deresponsibility’ by politics towards sport. For this reason I have always supported the importance of the ministry of sport as a control room for the various institutions present”, added Luca Pancalli, president of the Italian Paralympic Committee. “The well-being of a country is assessed on the quality of life index, not only on GDP, the sporting dimension must therefore be associated with the cultural one. Enlistment in the military, for example, is an extraordinary result, because it is not only for athletes: through this result we are changing the country from a cultural point of view”, added the number one of the Cip.