3D Soccer Kicks Off in Italy

Italy is getting its first taste of live 3D soccer on the bigscreen, in an appetite-whetting prelude to 3D World Cup soccer mania at theaters next month. The Space Cinema loop, a joint venture between fashion's Benetton family and prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset, announced an exclusive deal with the Italian soccer league to beam Wednesday's Italian Cup final, pitting AS Roma against Inter Milan, live in 3D via a Eutelsat satellite feed.

"We have great belief in this project because it represents the convergence of two great Italian passions: soccer and technology," enthused The Space topper Giuseppe Corrado.

The Italian Cup final will play in eight The Space plexes in Rome and Milan, the first live sports event beamed in 3D in Italy. A spokesman for the chain, which operates some 250 screens, said The Space is negotiating a 3D rights deal with World Cup soccer federation FIFA for the month-long tourney, which opens in South Africa on June 11. Paybox Sky Italia, which holds the bulk of TV rights to the tourney, will air the games in high-definition but not in 3D.

By Nick Vivarelli, Variety