Games in Serie A, Serie B and Serie C are under threat due to a stewarding crisis in Italian football, an investigation by La Repubblica has suggested.
Working conditions have gradually been deteriorating for stewards across Italy since, in 2007, it was ruled that games could not be played without their presence.
Now underpaid and often receiving between just €25 and €35 per game, stewards are starting to step away from this line of work and look elsewhere.
Some have even had to endure long commutes to cover games lacking in staff. By law, there must be one steward in place for every 250 supporters in a stadium.
Additionally, games have been played with fewer stewards in place than is legally required, showing that the seriousness of the issue in Italy is increasing.
The situation at the Stadio San Siro is perhaps the most striking, where half of the required employees – 400 of 800 – are brought in from other surrounding towns and cities, as even a city the size of Milan cannot provide the staff needed.
The majority of those who steward are under the age of 40, 25 percent of which are women and undergraduates.
Economic problems aren’t hard to come by in Italy’s third tier. On November 24, Catania’s game with Casertana had to be played behind closed doors due to the failure to ensure that the 105 stewards required would be in place.
On December 27, the company providing Catania’s staff communicated that their relationship with the club had been interrupted due to non-fulfilment of the contract on the club’s part.
Considering Catania is Italy’s 11th most populated city, the case was striking and by no means unique.
Stewarding has become increasingly difficult in recent years and they are required to support police officers in the stadium.
Responsibilities are increasing, as are the hours of commitment expected and some even have to work for six hours on a matchday for little remuneration.
Those involved in checking tickets at gates have taken on more additional responsibilities than anyone in recent years, particularly those operating around a curva.