Euro 2024: Spalletti rails at Italy PlayStation ban reports

COLOGNE, Germany — Italy manager Luciano Spalletti has insisted he has not banned his squad from playing video games while at Euro 2024 and said he has been trying out the team’s PlayStation at their training base.

Spalletti has been critical in the past of some of his squad playing videogames late into the night. He said back in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport in February that players should “leave the PlayStation at home” as they come into camp to aim for success at the “Euros, not to win at Call of Duty.”

In March, he told reporters that he believed one player had not slept before their key qualifying match against Ukraine as they had been playing on their PlayStation.

This issue was raised again on the eve of Italy’s opening match of Euro 2024 against Albania in Dortmund on Saturday, and Spalletti was quick to clarify reports he had banned the team from playing any videogames.

“Sometimes I’m very sad and disappointed to come here and comment on things I haven’t said. I’m not bothered about what they do, but I don’t allow them to spend all night being up.” Spalletti said in a news conference on Friday.

“I have nothing against any type of game — we have created a games room where there are two PlayStations there. Everyone goes there, I have had a go on it myself.

“But they can do that … within the right time of day. I don’t think it’s acceptable they’re awake until 3 or 4 a.m., you need to sleep at night. We need to impart a correct lifestyle during matches. It’s not fair and not true that I said we can’t play PlayStation. I said we can’t stay up until 3 or 4 a.m. — that’s different.”

Italy captain Gianluigi Donnarumma also said reports of a blanket ban on PlayStations had been exaggerated. “It’s important to make sure you don’t go to bed too late — you have to rest up and train,” Donnarumma said.

“After dinner we spend time together in the games room, we blow off a bit of steam there and that’s created a nice team spirit there. We have a laugh, we spend a few hours together.

“No issues on that score whatsoever, the manager gave us some pointers and advice, but there are no stringent rules by any means.”

Spalletti says he is optimistic Nicolò Barella will be fit to feature against Albania, with the Inter Milan midfielder nursing a groin injury.

“Yesterday he did the entire training session and we have another training session today, a bit of a training game,” Spalletti said. “Everything up until yesterday evening led us to believe he’s available for selection.”

Spalletti also refused to confirm whether Italy will go with a back three or back four against Albania.

There are also question marks over who he will go with up front, with Spalletti weighing up starting two strikers. But he did praise Atalanta‘s Gianluca Scamacca as a “complete striker”, who “has everything.”

Defending champions Italy are in a tough group alongside Croatia and Spain and they are wary of the threat Albania pose.

Albania, managed by ex-Arsenal and Barcelona defender Sylvinho, have a team packed with players based in Serie A and will know their opposition well.

“It’s definitely the biggest banana skin,” Donnarumma said of Albania. “We’ve been drawn in a difficult group and there are a number of banana skins with tomorrow night’s match — we need to be switched on, they have a lot of pace in the side and play nice football.

“We cannot play at 70 or 80% tomorrow night, we have to be at 100%. We will take things one game at a time. Tomorrow night’s match will be hugely important when it comes to getting points on the board.”