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Italian squad takes a stand against organised crime

As a gesture of solidarity with local residents, Cesar Prandelli’s men conducted their morning training session in the village of Rizziconi on a pitch reclaimed from a powerful crime syndicate.

A grateful Gigi Buffon waves to the fans in Rizziconi.
A grateful Gigi Buffon waves to the fans in Rizziconi.
Image: Adriana Sapone/AP/Press Association Images

THE ITALIAN FOOTBALL team may be scheduled to face Uruguay in Rome on Tuesday night, but the squad found the time this morning to visit the Calabrian hamlet of Rizziconi to attend a public training session.

Conducted on land reclaimed from the ‘Ndrangeta crime syndicate in 2003, the event was conceived of by the anti-mafia charity Libera as a means of allowing the national side to make a gesture of solidarity with victims of organised crime, Fox Sports Australia reports.

In addition to hearing a number of stories recounting the influence of the ‘Ndragheta– among the world’s largest cocaine traffickers– the team heard from the parents of Domenico Gabriele, a local boy who was killed when struck by a stray bullet.

Speaking after the ceremony, Gigi Buffon officials to fight crime on a regional basis.

“What [we] took to the pitch were the values of freedom,” he said.

“I think the key to fighting crime in these situations is to know the history of each town or city, in order to manage to stir the conscience.”

Former Italian international and veteran Milan midfielder Genaro Gattuso, a native of the region, was also in attendance.

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