‘Roma stadium the new Colosseum’

Roma President James Pallotta says the Stadio della Roma will be “the new Colosseum” and admits “until five years ago I thought football was a horrible sport”.

The Giallorossi hope to finally start construction on their new ground this year, having been given approval by the city after years of delays.

“It will be the new Colosseum,” Pallotta said at today’s Leaders In Sport conference in London.

“You can’t build a global brand without owning your own stadium. Everyone in Rome wants this stadium – except maybe Lazio fans, and they’ll get to play there once a year.

“We’re spending a lot of time deciding on what security measures there will be, what kind of facial recognition we’ll use.

“Have any of you seen a match in Italy? Do you know what the derby between Roma and Lazio is like?

“In the north of Italy they don’t fight much, it’s not like that, but in the south like in Naples and Rome the security problems are very significant.

“A year-and-a-half ago we went to the police, sat around a table and asked: ‘why don’t you arrest these people?’.

“I opened up a file of people who had committed some acts but there were only blurred images.

“So they asked us to install HD cameras inside and we bought them, despite the fact we don’t own the stadium, to see who was creating the problems.”

Pallotta is an American, and admits he wasn’t interested in the game they call soccer.

“Until five years ago I thought soccer was a horrible sport. Now I’m crazy for soccer.

“There are three billion soccer fans in the world and I’d like 1 per cent to have Roma as their second team, for all the things we do.

“That would mean having 30 million fans, and those are the numbers we aspire to.”