Giovanni Malagò, lord of sport

Some have called Malagò, President of CONI since February 19th, 2013, a tombeur de femmes – a Casanova – and the French is truly de rigueur for a man who sometimes still exudes a slightly retro vibe. But his life has been and continues to be full of commitments and huge responsibilities. Malagò is a businessman, he owns a dealership, and he’s president of the Aniene Rowing Club, the most fearsome concentration of the upper class in Italy’s capital. He is an athlete whose sports include skiing, tennis and rowing, and as a young man he played futsal competitively, appearing with the national team at the World Cup in Brazil in 1986. He is also a fierce supporter of AS Roma.

He was a friend of Gianni Agnelli, his mentor, and today still boasts a network of exclusive friendships, such as those with Luca di Montezemolo and Gianni Letta.

Anita Lo Mastro, a partner of “Excellence Magazine”, sat down with him at CONI’s official headquarters in Rome.

“Mr. Malagò, how is excellence pursued in sport?”

“Sport is like life: it takes discipline as well as mental training to win.”

“You are a staunch and passionate sportsman. What has sport given you from a human standpoint?”

“In my opinion, the greatest satisfaction comes not from practicing a particular sport, but from the passion you put into it, and that includes building relationships with your teammates, which later become friendships for life.”

“You mentioned friendship: yours are excellent. What was your relationship with Gianni Agnelli like?”

“We were introduced by his grandson, Lupo Rattazzi, son of Susanna, who was a friend I’ve known since my youth. I was only 24 years old, and yet Mr. Agnelli had expressed a desire to meet me. Our friendship was based on mutual interests and curiosity, which were very similar despite our different ages.”

“What would have been his reaction to learn that you are president of CONI?”

“He would have been amused to see the initial predictions turned on their head. It was one of those situations that typically put him in a good mood: the surprise of my election, the bewildered expression of those who believed they’d come through. Instead, those controlling the most votes had confidence in me and in my plan, which was revolutionary in certain ways, but also stood for the idea of collective participation.”

“Luca di Montezemolo is also a long-time friend…”

“Yes, he is a dear family friend, and we are linked by so many shared interests; at times these also help us achieve excellent results in our work. Luca is a fellow traveler, through and through.”

“Since 1997, you have also been president of the Aniene Rowing Club, the sports club whose members include everyone who’s anyone in the Eternal City.”

“The Club is an outstanding feature of the capital. The activities of the historic Aniene Rowers club aren’t confined only to sport. Water sports, five-a-side tournaments, and tennis academies alternate with a series of social connections.  History, values, and tradition are the grounding elements of an association that boasts cutting-edge services, social corps, and facilities.”

“Your second skin as an entrepreneur, then, led you to consider strategic communications and marketing.”

“Those are both crucial and invaluable for the development of sport, to the point that one of the many current projects concerns developing the CONI brand. The intent is certainly to represent everyone; my planning is focused on involvement. There is no development without sharing; one cannot create value without collegiality. Most of all, I feel far removed from self-referential ways of thinking. CONI is open to everyone I’d like to sift through ideas that can help it grow. Besides, we are a country with an elite calling for sport.”

One of his upcoming challenges is the thrilling prospect of hosting the 2024 Olympics in Rome – a venture that he considers nearly a mission for his country – and above all, to offer the reality of such a marvelous dream to generations to come. With this latest plan, so ambitious yet so exciting, Giovanni Malagò took his leave of us, and we can’t help but wish him the best of luck.

 

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