The president of Serie C, Italy's third tier of football, has criticised "elitist" plans to change the Coppa Italia format to shut out clubs below the top two divisions.
Reports in the Italian media said clubs from the top-tier Serie A met on Wednesday and agreed to restrict participation in Italy’s only national cup competition to the 40 teams of Serie A and Serie B from next season. The competition is run by Serie A.
The ANSA news agency said the new format was aimed at making the competition more valuable to broadcasters by ensuring more exciting match-ups in the early rounds.
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Serie B side Venezia responded to the news on Twitter by calling the plan "amazingly tone-deaf".
Serie C president Francesco Ghirelli said in a statement: "The decision by Serie A to exclude Lega Pro teams from the Coppa Italia does not only violate consolidated directives, but it is also the expression of an elitist concept of football, one incapable of a vision covering the whole system.
"On Monday we have called an emergency meeting of the Lega Pro council, which will adopt all initiatives to protest the rights of its teams and safeguard the culture of football that respects the most authentic sporting values. Innovation is positive, but only when safeguarding the cohesion of the football system."
Under the current format, the 27 Serie C teams and nine clubs from Serie D are involved from the first round.
The 20 Serie B teams join from round two, the 12 lowest-seeded Serie A clubs come in at round three, and the top eight Serie A sides only enter at the Round of 16.
Three Serie A clubs - Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan - joined six English and three Spanish clubs last month in an attempt to launch a breakaway European Super League, of which they would have been permanent members.
The plan fell apart after a wave of outrage from fans, soccer administrators and politicians.
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