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Roma 2009 Row & Suits Overshadow Italian Trials

May 26, 2009  - Craig Lord

The Italian nationals get underway in Pescara today under a couple of clouds. If the wearing of banned apparel transpires to the shame of the Italian federation, then the muted resignation of Giovanni Malagò as president of the Roma 2009 world-championship organising committee is the second fly in FIN's ointment. Some of the sites that would be used for the world championships have been seized by police and placed under court order by the public prosecutor. 

That does not apply to the Foro Italico, the race pool venue.

The FINA Bureau has called an extraordinary session on Friday in Lausanne to deal with the suits crisis and the Roma 2009 row and issues over legalities and contracts, according to reports out of Italy today. On the top table, the two men battling for the FINA presidency, Mustapha Larfaoui and Julio Maglione, and Italian Bureau member Bartolo Consolo, in the presence of executive director Cornel Marculescu.

On report suggested that work has now stopped at the site that has been seized. The question now is: will Roma 2009 be ready?

President of the Italian federation, Paolo Barelli, last week called for the resignation of Malago for "an abuse of power" in a row that focusses on the sports complex that might have hosted the world championships before a decision was taken to return to the magnificent Foro Italico. 

It is not the Foro Italico that has been seized, but the Salaria Sport Village, which is being used for some activities related to Roma 2009.  The dispute centres on permissions granted by the city of Rome for certain types of usage of land and buildings in particular areas and zones of the city.

Giovanni Malago said: "I cannot enter the heads of those who ordered the [seizure]. I imaging that those who built the plant had permits, and that the delegation had to be granted by those who could grant it." He threatened to resign.

The Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) responds today in the Italian media with a statement from Coni president Gianni Petrucci: "As far as Malagò, president of the organising commitee [Rome 2009] goes ... he has done extraordinary work." Malago's departure from the helm of the Roma 2009 organisation would, says Petrucci, be "a grievous loss".