Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has railed against the influx of Far East money into Serie A and said the sales of Inter Milan and AC Milan to Chinese investors are a defeat for Italian football.
China’s president Xi Jinping is looking to expand the country’s global presence in the sport, and Chinese investors have struck a series of eye-catching deals for European clubs this year.
Electronics retailer Suning bought nearly 70 percent of Inter Milan in June for 270 million euros ($295.97 million), while a consortium of Chinese investors signed a preliminary agreement in August to buy Inter’s city rivals AC Milan.
“It is the defeat of Italian football. Of Italy as a country, of the traditions, of everything,” Buffon, who is captain of both his club and Italy, told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Thursday.
“But we have what we deserve, we are fickle, without a rooted sense of belonging and history has always demonstrated that,” the 38-year-old added.
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“We ask for Italian identity, but if, after 30 years, the Italian experiences a difficult moment, with five years in 10th place, then we don’t accept it.”
AC Milan, who are third in Serie A on 16 points, have not won a domestic league title in the last five years and missed out on European qualification for the third consecutive campaign last season.
Inter Milan, 11th in the table, have not won a league title since Jose Mourinho led them to a treble in the 2009-2010 season and have not qualified for the Champions League for the last five years.
Buffon, who wants to retire after the 2018 World Cup, said he was open to the idea of coaching a national team when his playing career ends, but ruled out managing a club as it would take up too much time.