Ital­ians to mark big day

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

ROME: The Ital­ian World Cup squad have de­cided to sup­port cel­e­bra­tions of the 150th an­niver­sary of Italy’s unity with part of the bonus they hope to win in South Africa.

Ital­ian goal­keeper Gian­luigi Buf­fon told lo­cal me­dia yes­ter­day the team feels a duty to help out.

“The com­mit­tee for unity cel­e­bra­tions has bud­get prob­lems.

“Then we, who are a sym­bol that unites the whole coun­try, have de­cided that if we get a bonus, each of us will con­trib­ute part, big or small, to em­pha­sise the unity of Italy,” said Buf­fon.

Should Italy suc­cess­fully de­fend its World Cup ti­tle, each player stands to re­ceive a bonus of € 250 000 (R2.3m) and the team would do­nate € 600 000.

The 150th an­niver­sary of the uni­fi­ca­tion of Italy is to be cel­e­brated in 2011, but the in­ter-min­is­te­rial or­gan­i­sa­tional com­mit­tee, which plans a se­ries of na­tion­wide events, has faced prob­lems and con­tro­versy over dwin- dling fund­ing and luke­warm sup­port.

The Az­zurri’s de­ci­sion fol­lows an ap­peal ear­lier this week from Roberto Calderoli, the min­is­ter for leg­isla­tive sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, to re­duce pos­si­ble bonuses in light of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

His pro­posal stirred crit­i­cism from the Az­zurri and from the pres­i­dent of the Ital­ian foot­ball fed­er­a­tion, Gian­carlo Abete, who said the bonuses came from the fed­er­a­tion’s bud­get and prizes from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball rul­ing bod­ies.

“I hope that, in or­der to do­nate it, they do get the bonus. So I hope that they win. You can’t sell a bearskin with­out killing it,” Calderoli said.

“There has been so much con­tro­versy af­ter my pro­posal and ac­cu­sa­tions of dem­a­gogy.

“The fact that some­body has given a pos­i­tive re­sponse shows that it was fair, not dem­a­gogic.”

The Az­zurri’s de­ci­sion to make the do­na­tion hints at crit­i­cism of Calderoli. – Sapa-dpa

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