Gala event to mark the relaunch of Serie A in the United States
They came by the dozens, men in finely cut suits, and women in evening gowns, adding a rare touch of elegance to the great hall of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, usually crowded with tourists in T-shirts and sneakers.
They came to show their love for Calcio, the Italian term for soccer.
For the past year, Italian soccer has had a home on the CBS-owned streaming channel, Paramount+, televising every Serie A game, most of them live, for fans in the United States.
The real stars of the evening were Italian soccer legends Alessandro Del Piero, Christian Vieri, Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Nesta. Early int eh evening, the four stars, dressed mostly in black, stood apart from the crowd featins on passed hors d’oeuvres including arancini with sea scallops and hand sliced San Daniele prosciutto.
Fans who found the quiet corner where the stars hung out waited nervously to speak with them. Peter, the president of the AC Milan fan club in New York, was almost shaking as he asked to have his photo taken with Alessandro nesta. The Milan fan opened his shirt to reveal a red AC T-shirt with the Milan logo over his heart.
After finishing his photo he down a large glass of water to calm his nerves. “Wow,” was all he could bring himself to say.
Guests who did not dare take a photo with the stars, who were there as the league’s ambassadors, would take a guided tour of the Met’s European Paintings collection, or wander the halls of Greek and Roman art.
At dinner, Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo said Calcio’s arrival in the United States, which actually began two years ago, was late, but the league plans to catch up to its european rivals, the British Premier League, and La Liga of Spain, which both have large audiences in the U.S.
“Those who preceded us had focused only on Italy,,” De Siervo said. Now, he said the league must focus on “globalization.”
The work goes beyond the sale last year of television rights for 64 million Euros a year. With a new office in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, the new heart of the city’s media district, the league will begin building new partnerships with US fans and sponsors, and unveiling new media ventures including highlights in multiple languages, and behind the scene films, as well as what he tantalizingly referred to as “scripted entertainment,” perhaps a series of docudramas about Serie A teams and stars.
“We have become a media company,” De Siervo told guests at the event, held in the magnificent Temple of Dendur, a genuine Egyptian temple that was rescued from rising waters of the Great Aswan Dam.
Large screens showed guests at the dinner a real Serie A game transformed in real time into a Metaverse 3-dimensional game. “We do entertainment for all purposes, we don’t just play football,” De Siervo said.
Other speakers at the event included Rocco Commisso, the Italian born and Bronx-bred owner of ACF Fiorentina told the story of how he came to America as a 12-year from southern Italy, and played his way to a full scholarship as a soccer player at New York’s prestigious Columbia University.
Commisso built an empire of cable television companies and in 2019, bought the fabled club in Florence. He is a prime example of why Legie is expanding to the United States. Italian soccer is so popular here that seven of the league’s teams are owned by Americans (and one by a Canadian).
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