Alessandro Del Piero's move to Delhi Dynamos sparks diplomatic debate
Alessandro Del Piero's decision to join the new Indian Super League has sparked a political debate back home in Italy.
With two Italian military personnel currently being held in an Indian jail under suspicion of shooting dead two local fishermen, relations between the two nations are frayed.
And as a result, Del Piero's announcement on Thursday night that he had agreed to join the Delhi Dynamos has therefore drawn condemnation.
"He doesn't need the money or the fame," said politician Giorgia Meloni, calling on Del Piero not to sign a contract with the Indian club. "He's already an undisputed symbol of Italian football and a world football icon.
"If he were to make a stand on this matter, it would certainly not fall on deaf ears and it could be an important signal to the Indian government and the international community."
Del Piero has no intention of reneging on his agreement, though, and has asked not to be used as a political tool.
"I know that my decision to go and play in India has raised a bit of perplexity in view of the relations between Italy and India, in view of the two Maro [Italian military] being held there," he said on his own website.
"As an Italian, like all of my compatriots, I am not unaffected by the issue regarding our Maro and I hope that there will be a positive outcome for them very soon.
"Considering I do not think I am the only Italian to have work relations with India, I know exactly what it is that I am doing, but I also know that I will have a bigger impact on the media. But I accept the responsibility my role entails.
"I am satisfied with my choice. I'm not going to a hostile country and the last thing I want is to be used [for political purposes] and for sport to be used to divide rather than uniting."
The 39-year-old has signed a contract until December with the Delhi Dynamos, after which he may accept another offer which was made to him in recent weeks from Hungarian side Honved.