Conte predicts long wait for Italian Champions League win

TURIN, Italy Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:21am IST

Juventus coach Antonio Conte reacts during their Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match against Bayern Munich at the Juventus stadium in Turin April 10, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Juventus coach Antonio Conte reacts during their Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match against Bayern Munich at the Juventus stadium in Turin April 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo

TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - Juventus coach Antonio Conte has predicted a long wait before another Italian team wins the Champions League, saying there was a huge gap between Serie A sides and the "European superpowers".

In an astonishing outburst following his team's quarter-final elimination by Bayern Munich, Conte added that Italians were only interested in futile controversies and said that former European champions Ajax Amsterdam "do not exist anymore".

Conte had emphasised before the tie that there was a big difference between German champions Bayern and his Serie A leaders, but took the discourse to a new level after his side lost 4-0 on aggregate, going down 2-0 in each leg.

"Today, I see teams like Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Paris St Germain and Barcelona, clubs who have a lot of money, they can buy all the top players and in Italy the situation is different," he told reporters.

"I can't see an Italian team winning the Champions League in the coming years."

Conte, a midfielder in the Juventus team which beat Ajax in the 1996 Champions League final, remembered what had happened to the Dutch club.

"At the time, Ajax were the team to beat in Europe. But Ajax don't exist anymore, now they are just a club who develop young players," he said.

"These European superpowers have budgets of hundreds of millions of euros and they can buy all the top players.

"Here in Italy, we have to work with what we have got and we need to have the humility to realise that things are not the same as they were in the past."

He went on: "We have to look at where we can improve, how we can increase our budgets.

"But we are only interested in stirring up controversies about futile things, about gossip and creating controversies with referees."

Juventus's defeat left Serie A without a team in the semi-finals for the third year in a row.

AC Milan were thumped 4-2 on aggregate by Barcelona in the last 16 and Udinese fell in the final qualifying round against Portuguese side Braga.

Juventus sporting director Giuseppe Marotta also pointed to the financial problems.

"It is very simple, Italian sides have almost 70 percent of their revenue from television rights while German clubs split between TV rights, commercial rights and the stadiums.

"It's clear that in Italy that there is a lack of stadiums and they have to be owned by the clubs to boost income."

Juventus are the only Serie A club to own their own stadium, which they opened last season.

(Editing by Mark Meadows)

Soccer

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