Juventus Prepare For Atletico Battle With Udinese Warm Up


Tensions are running high in Turin as Juventus get ready to take on lowly Udinese in Serie A on Friday just days ahead of their must-win Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid.

Massimiliano Allegri’s unbeaten champions put one hand on an eighth consecutive Serie A title last weekend by seeing off Scudetto rivals Napoli 2-1 to open up a huge 16-point lead in the Italian league.

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But the pressure is on the Juventus coach amid reports of a falling out with club chairman Andrea Agnelli after the club’s first-leg 2-0 defeat in Spain two weeks ago.

“We have to win to prepare for the match on Tuesday, regardless of the advantage that we have (in the league),” Allegri told a pre-match press conference on Thursday.

“We still need six victories (to win the title).

“The Madrid match has left us with motivation that has helped us in these 15 days. We will be ready on Tuesday and we will have a great game.”

The Juventus coach confirmed he had also met with Agnelli to discuss his future.

“I met with the chairman yesterday for dinner, we are two intelligent people who have built something important in these five years together,” said Allegri.

“We decided to talk about the renewal of the contract after the season.”

The pressure has also been mounting on Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference as the club’s major objective of the season hangs by a thread in Turin next Tuesday.

The top scorer in the Champions League for the last six seasons, Ronaldo was signed for 100 million euros ($112 million) last summer from Real Madrid.

But the 34-year-old Portuguese superstar has scored just one goal in this year’s competition as Juventus target a first European title since 1996.

Ronaldo has also failed to score in his last two league games since the Madrid defeat and has been joined at the top of the Serie A scorers chart by Sampdoria veteran Fabio Quagliarella, 36, who has also scored 19 goals.

Allegri confirmed that Ronaldo is available, but will start from the bench so as to be fully primed for what promises to be an epic struggle against the dogged Madrid outfit.

Defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini will not play on Friday either.

Udinese are 15th in Serie A but have moved away from the drop zone after winning their last two Serie A games against relegation candidates Chievo and Bologna.

The side from northeastern Italy also have a game in hand after their trip to Lazio was postponed.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli travel to mid-table Sassuolo on Sunday looking to get back winning after last week’s home defeat to Juventus.

AC Milan, a further eight points behind in third, are targeting a fifth straight league win against bottom club Chievo.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side are a point above city rivals Inter, who lost 2-1 at Cagliari amid a public contract dispute with absent star striker Mauro Icardi.

There are reports of “a thaw” between the Argentina striker, who has been stripped of the captain’s armband, and club bosses after a meeting this week.

Roma, meanwhile, turn their focus back to qualifying for next year’s Champions League after crashing out 4-3 on aggregate after extra time amid VAR controversy at Porto midweek.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side are fifth, three points behind Inter Milan who occupy the final Champions League berth, after falling 3-0 to city rivals Lazio last weekend.

Last year’s Champions League semi-finalists have a chance to pick themselves up against Empoli, who are three points above the drop zone, on Monday.

“Going out like this hurts,” said Roma captain Daniele Di Rossi. “Our focus is now on preparing for Empoli and then SPAL.”

Fixtures (all times GMT)


Juventus v Udinese (1930)


Parma v Genoa (1700), Chievo v AC Milan (1930)


Bologna v Cagliari (1130), Sampdoria v Atalanta, Frosinone v Torino, Inter Milan v SPAL (all 1400), Sassuolo v Napoli (1700), Fiorentina v Lazio (1930)


AS Roma v Empoli (1930)


Roma Fight Back In Six-Goal Atalanta Stalemate

Roma Fight Back In Six-Goal Atalanta Stalemate
Roma’s Argentinian midfielder Javier Pastore (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match between against Atalanta at The “Olympic” Stadium in Rome on August 27, 2018. Andreas SOLARO / AFP


Javier Pastore scored his first AS Roma goal after two minutes but an Emiliano Rigoni brace helped Atalanta leave the capital with a share of the spoils in a 3-3 draw in Serie A on Monday.

Roma got off to a blistering start with former PSG player Pastore scoring minutes into his first match at the Stadio Olimpico with a spectacular back-heel after a pinpoint Cengiz Under cross.

“It’s certainly harder in Serie A than Ligue 1, the first two games have been such a struggle,” said Argentine Pastore.

“I think after our goal, we got a bit too relaxed and allowed them to have the ball.

“We came out for the second half with more intensity and managed to get it back on track. We could even have won it at the end.”

Atalanta — revamped ahead of their crunch Europa League playoff game this week — proved dangerous, taking advantage of sloppy Roman defending to pull ahead 3-1 at half-time.

Belgian defender Timothy Castagne tapped in the equaliser after 19 minutes and within three minutes Argentine Rigoni got his first goal with the second on 38 minutes.

Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco shuffled his side at the break with World Cup winner Steven Nzonzi coming on for his debut after arriving from Sevilla, along with Justin Kluivert.

Alessandro Florenzi pulled a goal back on the hour mark before limping off injured with Patrik Schick thrown into the attack in his place.

But it was Greek defender Kostas Manolas who pulled the hosts level seven minutes from time, tapping in a Pastore free kick.

Roma, who finished third last season, have four points from two games and face a difficult task on Friday at AC Milan, who are reeling after throwing away a two-goal lead to fall 3-2 to Napoli.

“This leaves us with a very bitter taste in the mouth, we went very close to winning,” said Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini, whose side are also on four points after winning their opening match.

Champions Juventus’ 2-0 win against Lazio and Napoli’s comeback against AC Milan meant both start their campaigns with the maximum six points.


Ronaldo Arrives As Serie A Returns In FIFA19 Video Game

Juventus’ forward from Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo warms up prior to the Italian Serie A football match AC Chievo vs Juventus at the Marcantonio-Bentegodi stadium in Verona on August 18, 2018.


Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival in Italy has boosted the international popularity of Serie A which will return in the FIFA 19 video game to be launched next month, the Lega Serie A confirmed Monday.

Lega Serie A chairman Gaetano Micciche said the agreement had been reached to include the Italian league in the new edition of the world’s most famous football simulator.

“We are very happy to come back in a famous and popular game like FIFA 19,” Micciche said in a statement.

“The agreement signed with an internationally renowned partner such as EA Sports testifies to the worldwide recognition that our championship has.”

Maurizio Finocchiaro, Electronic Arts Italy General Manager, underlined “the high potential of the next season for Italian football”.

Ronaldo, 33, made his Serie A debut for Juventus in a 3-2 win at Chievo at the weekend after a 100 million euro move from Real Madrid.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was the cover star in the FIFA 18 edition with his former club.

The Italian league has also seen the return of former Chelsea and Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti to Italy as coach of Serie A runners-up Napoli.

The new edition, which will be available from September 28, also allow fans to compete in the new UEFA Champions League tournament mode, which includes all stages of the competition.


Ronaldo Set For Serie A Debut Amid Tight Security

Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo (C) arrives at the Juventus medical centre at the Alliance stadium in Turin. Miguel MEDINA / AFP


Cristiano Ronaldo makes his eagerly-awaited Serie A debut for Juventus on Saturday amid the tightest security and excitement the Italian city of Verona has seen since a concert by Robbie Williams at Chievo’s Bentegodi Stadium last year.

Reigning champions Juventus face Chievo in their Serie A opener at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT) in the small northeastern Italian city famed as the setting for Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”.

Ronaldo, the 33-year-old Portugal superstar, joined from Real Madrid last month in a deal worth 100 million euros ($114.5 million).

Thousands of fans and the world’s media have been pouring into the town, which has a population of 262,000, ahead of the first game of the season.

Anti-terrorism measures have been put in place around the stadium which has been closed off to traffic with 32,000 spectators expected in addition to hundreds of journalists and television crews from around the globe.

Ronaldo’s Serie A debut has smashed Chievo’s record for ticket sales, generating over one million euros.

“New challenge,” tweeted Ronaldo, who was Real Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer with 451 goals, of which 311 came in La Liga.

He will be looking to add to the league and European titles he won with both Manchester United and Real Madrid.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner scored in his two warm-up friendlies for Juventus but did not travel with the team to the United States.

“It’s going to be an exciting season, there are many top players in Serie A and we have one of them in Cristiano Ronaldo — the best in the world,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“Players like Ronaldo are different from all the others: it shows in what he has won, he is a stimulus for everyone.”

But Allegri warned his team not to rely too much on Ronaldo as they target an eighth straight Serie A title and the Champions League.

“Every year, Juventus plays to win all the trophies available, and in the past four years we have twice come close to winning all the trophies which we have competed for, and this year we’ll try again.

“It’s my fifth year at the club, progress has been made, the quality of players has improved, as has our confidence at European level. You never know — this could be our year to win the Champions League, but first, we need to get past the group stage and then we’ll see where we are in March.”

“We have to keep our feet on the ground.


Six New Signings To Watch In Serie A

Six New Signings To Watch In Serie A
Juventus’ forward from Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo kicks the ball during the friendly football match between Juventus A and Juventus B at Villar Perosa, on August 12, 2018, at Villar Perosa. Isabella Bonotto / AFP


Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus has injected an air of expectation into the Italian championship not felt in decades while spending has smashed the one billion euro mark with more than a day still to go before the transfer window closes.

Champions Juventus top the spree with 235 million euros ($265 million) invested in new players — more than double rivals AS Roma and Napoli — as for the second straight year Serie A are the only one of the top five European leagues to keep pace with the big-spending English Premier League.

With the transfer window slamming shut in Italy at 19:00 GMT on Friday, Serie A teams have time to overtake the 1.037 billion euros spent last summer.

Here AFP Sport picks out six new signings to watch in the coming campaign.


Age: 33

Position: Forward

Previous club: Real Madrid (ESP)

— Reigning seven-time Italian champions Juventus had the biggest scoop of the summer in five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, who arrived from European champions Real Madrid in a shock 100 million euro ($117 million) deal. Massimiliano Allegri’s side are counting on the evergreen Portuguese superstar to help win the Champions League. Ronaldo has been the bogey man in Europe for Juventus in recent years, scoring 10 in seven games against the Serie A side for Real Madrid as the Spaniards romped to three straight Champions League titles. Ronaldo has thwarted Juve’s attempts to bag their first Champions League since 1996 in both of the last two seasons, earning a standing ovation from the Turin crowd for his superb overhead bicycle kick last season and scoring a brace in the 2017 final as Madrid thumped the Italians 4-1.


Age: 30

Position: Striker

On loan from: Juventus (ITA)

— Argentine international striker Higuain scored 40 goals in two seasons at Juventus, but with the arrival of Ronaldo has opted to head for rivals AC Milan on a one-year loan deal worth a reported 18 million euros ($21 million) that gives the Serie A club the option to buy the striker next summer for a further 36 million euros. Higuain’s arrival has revived enthusiasm around Milan after a troubled period marked by on-pitch embarrassment and financial woes. Last season they scored just 56 league goals as they finished sixth despite spending over 200 million euros ($233 million) on new players. This season they have spent a more modest 81 million euros so far.


Age: 31

Position: Centre-back

Previous club: AC Milan (ITA)

— Italy international defender Bonucci went back to Turin, where he previously won six Serie A titles and played in both of their lost European finals, after just one underwhelming season at Milan. The 31-year-old admitted that he left Juve in a fit of pique after falling out with Allegri in 2017, but “missed home” and wanted to return after burying the hatchet with the coach.


Age: 26

Position: Forward

Previous club: Bologna (ITA)

— The Italian international forward was one of Carlo Ancelotti’s first signings as Napoli coach coming in for 23 million euros despite the Serie A runners-up trailing behind their rivals in the transfer market spending. A versatile player Verdi scored ten goals last season for Bologna who he joined after Carpi were relegated in 2016, having also previous played for Torino and his boyhood club AC Milan.


Age: 29

Position: Midfielder

Previous club: Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)

— Argentinian attacking midfielder Pastore returned to Italy on a 24.7-million-euro ($28.8 million) deal. The 29-year-old previously played in Serie A with Palermo from 2009-11 and was named the league’s young player of the season in 2010. The gifted playmaker was the first major signing PSG made in 2011 after being taken over by their Qatari owners. Pastore’s move back to Italy comes with Paris Saint-Germain under pressure from UEFA to balance their books after signing Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in blockbuster deals last season, sparking an audit of their financial affairs.


Age: 30

Position: Midfielder

Previous club: Roma (ESP)

— The controversial Belgium international, looking for a new challenge after being snubbed for the World Cup, links up again with former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, as Inter look to improve on a fourth-place in Serie A and compete in the Champions League for the first time since 2011-12. “I think I had my best season under Spalletti and I hope to do just as well here,” said Nainggolan who arrives on a four-year contract worth 38 million euros. “I hope we can do well both in Serie A and the Champions League because Inter have a proud history. Hopefully we’ll get back to those heights again now.”


Ronaldo To Make Serie A Debut For Juventus In August

Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo gestures the thumbs up as he attends a promotional event in Beijing on July 19, 2018. WANG ZHAO / AFP


Cristiano Ronaldo will kick his first ball in Serie A at troubled Chievo on the weekend of August 18/19 when new club Juventus begin their bid for a record eighth straight league title.

The fixture list for the 2018-19 season of the Italian championship was announced on Thursday with all eyes on where the superstar attacker, signed for 100 million euros from European champions Real Madrid earlier this month, would begin what he called “a new adventure”.

Juventus are strong favourites to further cement their domestic dominance following the superstar attacker’s arrival, with the league’s other big hitters in a transition period.

Napoli, who finished four points behind Juve last year, will be a different prospect from the free-flowing purists of recent years after replacing new Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri with Carlo Ancelotti, a double winner with the Premier League club in 2010.

Ancelotti begins his new job with a tough away trip to Lazio, who were top scorers last season with 89 goals and only missed out on Champions League football on the final day after a dramatic defeat to Inter Milan.

Three-time Champions League winner Ancelotti follows that up with the visit of AC Milan, themselves hoping to rebuild after being taken over by American hedge fund Elliott Management earlier this month.

Lazio will host Juventus in the second week of the upcoming season, the first proper test for the reigning champions and 33-year-old Ronaldo and the second of two tough opening matches for coach Simone Inzaghi.

Roma, who begin at Torino, have already brought in 11 new players after finishing third and reaching the Champions League semi-finals last season, but doubts remain after they sold fan favourite Radja Nainggolan to Inter and goalkeeper Alisson to Liverpool for a record-busting 72.5 million euros ($84.4 million).

Boosted by their qualification for Europe’s top competition and the signing of Nainggolan, Inter are nonetheless not expected to trouble all-conquering Juve’s charge for the title.

However, Massimiliano Allegri’s side are unlikely to have it their own way, after a draw that gives them trips to both Luciano Spalletti’s Inter and Roma in the final five weeks of the season.

Juve’s opening day opponents Chievo were let off from being deducted points from last season and relegated after a legal technicality meant charges that they deliberately inflated the figures of transfer dealings with now-bankrupt Serie B club Cesena were thrown out.


Ronaldo Arrives Turin Ahead Of Juventus Unveiling

Ronaldo Arrives Turin Ahead Of Juventus Unveiling
A picture taken on July 11, 2018, shows a saleswoman making the shop window with a Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus jersey in a shop in downtown Turin. Portuguese football superstar transfer from Real Madrid to Italy’s Juventus was announced on July 10. Isabella Bonotto / AFP


Cristiano Ronaldo has landed in Turin ahead of his official unveiling as Juventus’ superstar summer signing on Monday afternoon, the Serie A champions announced on Sunday.

“Now arriving in Turin: @Cristiano!” the club wrote on its Twitter account, alongside a photo of Ronaldo with his girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez in front of the private jet that brought him to Italy at Turin’s Caselle airport.

Juventus then posted a video of the plane landing and the player stepping down from the plane his entourage before being whisked off by club officials in a car with blacked out windows.

Ronaldo was expected to land in Italy on Monday morning after surprising the world and asking for a 100 million-euro ($116 million) move from European champions Real Madrid, with daily Repubblica reporting that as many as 20,000 fans were expected to greet him at the airport.

However, Ronaldo, who won four of the last five Champions Leagues with his former club, will now head for the Allianz Stadium for medicals on Monday before facing journalists’ questions at a media conference scheduled for 1630 GMT.

There the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will sign a four-year contract worth a reported 30 million euros a season in a deal that Italian media says will cost Juventus a total of 350 million euros.

La Repubblica reports that he will meet the team — who have begun pre-season training — on Monday afternoon, but will join them officially later in the month when they begin their summer tour of the United States.


Juventus Wrap Up Seventh Straight Serie A Title

Juventus players celebrate at the end of the Italian Serie A football match AS Roma vs Juventus at the Olympic stadium on May 13, 2018 in Rome. TIZIANA FABI / AFP


Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri hailed his side’s winning mentality as they sealed a seventh straight Serie A title on Sunday after a goalless draw against ten-man Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Turin giants had needed just a point to officially seal their 34th Scudetto title and become the first team to complete the league and Cup double for four consecutive seasons.

Roma played the final twenty minutes a man down after Radja Nainggolan was sent off for a second yellow card after a foul on Argentina striker Paulo Dybala.

Allegri’s side also won the Italian Cup in the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday with a 4-0 win over AC Milan.

With one game left to play Juventus cannot be caught by second-placed Napoli who are four points behind after winning 2-0 at Sampdoria on Sunday.

“It’s not easy to keep the right mentality just a few days after winning the Italian Cup final,” said Allegri.

“I think the greatest strength was keeping calm in all situations. You reach the final objective with one small step at a time.

“It’s been really tough and we have to compliment Napoli, as they kept the pressure on to the end and won at Sampdoria.

“We work hard, but when it’s time to celebrate after four extraordinary years, it’s right that everyone celebrates.

“If you get overwhelmed by enthusiasm, you’re going to collapse three days later.”

Eusebio Di Francesco’s Roma, in third, had already sealed their Champions League place next season after Inter Milan’s 2-1 loss against Sassuolo.

“Juventus have a special mentality that has been built up through the years,” said Di Francesco.

“It’s a club that succeeds in remaining united through difficulties. They are an example for other teams to follow.”

Juventus had early chances with Edin Dzeko firing over, a Lorenzo Pellegrini right footer flying wide and Aleksandar Kolarov’s free-kick hitting the side netting.

Dybala threatened early and broke through early in the second half after an Alex Sandro cross but the goal was disallowed because the Argentina striker was offside.

Nainggolan received two yellow cards in the space of five minutes and from the 68th minute Roma were down to 10 men.

But Juventus did not take advantage of their advantage as they game lost its momentum although Dybala did have penalty appeals.

Juventus will play their final game in Turin next weekend and Allegri promised a big celebration.

“There are players here who won all seven titles and deserve Saturday’s salute in front of their home fans. We want to celebrate all together in Turin,” added Allegri.


Dybala Hat-Trick Stretches Juventus’ Lead In Serie A

Juventus’ Argentinian striker Paulo Dybala scores a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match Benevento Calcio vs FC Juventus on March 7, 2018, at the Ciro Vigorito Stadium in Benevento. Photo: CARLO HERMANN / AFP


Paulo Dybala scored a hat-trick, including two from the penalty spot, to extend Juventus’s lead at the top of Serie A with a 4-2 win at battling bottom club Benevento on Saturday.

The Turin giants moved a step closer to a seventh straight Italian title, four days before they travel to Real Madrid needing to overturn a 3-0 deficit to reach the Champions League semi-finals.

Juventus now lead second-placed Napoli, who travel to Chievo on Sunday, by seven points, as Roma’s 2-0 defeat at home to Fiorentina put their third place under threat from Inter Milan and Lazio, who play on Sunday.

Malian forward Cheick Diabate scored a brace to twice drag Benevento back into the game but the rock-bottom side fell to their 26th defeat in 31 games.

“Congratulations to the lads because today was important to win after the defeat against Real Madrid,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“There are seven games left and today it was too important.

“The feeling was that we were at risk, the same feeling I had against AC Milan (last week) when we conceded many shots for the first time in months.

“We’ve got to take every last drop of energy we’ve got left to go for the Scudetto, Italian Cup and of course the second leg in Madrid.”

Juventus’ Argentinian striker Paulo Dybala celebrates after scoring a penalty during the match 


Dybala — who will miss the trip to Madrid after being red-carded in the first leg — opened the scoring after quarter of an hour and got the second just before the break when he slotted in a penalty awarded after consultation with the video assistant referee (VAR).

The 24-year-old completed his treble with a penalty after 74 minutes when Gonzalo Higuain was brought down in the box, before Douglas Costa added the fourth eight minutes from time with a magnificent curling effort.

‘Nothing to lose’

“It’s difficult against these sides who have nothing to lose,” said Dybala as Juventus allowed their rivals, who were 65 points below them before kick-off, back into the game.

Dybala broke through on 16 minutes when Juan Cuadrado knocked down the ball for the Argentine international to finish with a left-footed shot from the edge of the box.

But six minutes later Benevento were level after Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved a Filip Djuricic effort only for Diabate to tap in the rebound.

Mario Mandzukic put the ball in the back of the Benevento net again after 36 minutes, finishing off a Cuadrado cross, but the goal was disallowed for handball.

The champions went into half-time ahead through Dybala’s first penalty after Berat Djimsiti’s foul on Miralem Pjanic.

Benevento were back level five minutes into the second half when Diabate rose higher than defender Medhi Benatia to head home a corner.

It was the 29-year-old’s fifth goal in five games for the club since joining the club in February.

But Dybala, who now has 25 goals in all competitions this season, put Juventus back in front again, before Costa sealed the three points.

Fiorentina shock Roma

Already reeling from their 4-1 Champions League defeat to Barcelona in midweek, Roma’s spot in next year’s elite European competition is now under threat.

First-half goals from Marco Benassi and Giovanni Simeone stretched Fiorentina’s winning run to six games.

Tributes were paid before the game to Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, who died last month at the age of 31, and played for Roma in 2014-15.

Benassi gave the visitors the lead after seven minutes at the Stadio Olympico after a pinpoint Riccardo Saponara cross, with Simeone doubling their advantage five minutes before the break.

Edin Dzeko missed numerous chances to for Roma and Inter Milan can pass them when they visit Torino on Sunday.

Lazio can also move level with their Roman rivals when they travel to Udinese.


Inter’s Milan’s Chinese Owners Dismiss Financial Crisis Claims

Inter Milan’s forward Citadin Martins Eder from Italy reacts during the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan Vs Benevento on February 24, 2018 at the San Siro stadium in Milan.


Chinese-owned Italian club Inter Milan on Thursday dismissed reports that their finances were in such disarray they should be demoted from Serie A.

According to a report in Italian Financial daily, Il Sole 24 Ore, Inter are operating an imbalanced budget.

But in a statement, Inter said reports were “incorrect and misleading as well as harmful to the image of the club, which has fully adhered to Italian law and FIGC regulations.”

“Inter Milan would like to make it clear that its consolidated financial statements contain comprehensive data and information as required by the Italian Civil Code and legal and regulatory provisions relating to the financial statements of football clubs.”

Chinese businessman Zhang Jindong’s Suning group paid nearly 270 million euros for Inter in June last year.

But Il Sole reported that within the last financial year, the club’s total debt has risen to 637.56 million euros, which is almost 150 million euros more than the previous year.

A total 208 million euros is owed to banks, it was claimed, while more than 220 million euros needs to be paid back to shareholders

“The club believes it to be of primary importance that laws and regulations on financial statements are adhered to and will take all necessary legal actions to defend itself and its image in order to once again confirm that the financial information contained in the financial statement, explanatory notes and management report is transparent and truthful.”

The club are currently fourth in Serie A, 18 points behind leaders Napoli.


Crisis-Ridden Italian FA Fails To Elect President

Crisis-Ridden Italian FA Fails To Elect President
Cosimo Sibilia (L), one of the three candidates to the presidency of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) reacts next to fellow candidate Gabriele Gravina (R) during a meeting ahead of the vote in Rome on January 29, 2018.    Photo: Andreas SOLARO / AFP


The Italian football federation (FIGC) sank further into crisis on Monday after failing to elect a new president on Monday, two-and-a-half months after the national team failed to qualify for the World Cup.

After four rounds of voting at a general meeting held in Fiumicino near Rome, none of the three candidates — the president of the Amateur League (LND) Cosimo Sibilia, the president of the third-tier Lega Pro division Gabriele Gravina and the head of the professional players’ union (AIC) Damiano Tommasi — managed to obtain a majority.

The failed elections mean that Italian football is without a president for both the FIGC and top division Serie A and has no national team coach, following Gian Piero Ventura’s dismissal post-World Cup failure.

Sibilia, Gravina and Tommasi were vying for the position left by previous president Carlo Tavecchio, who was forced to step down after the Italian national team’s elimination from this summer’s World Cup in Russia, the first time since 1958 they missed out on the tournament.

The failure to elect a president will almost certainly mean that the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) will take control of the FIGC.

CONI president Giovanni Malago had asked again on Saturday for the vote to be postponed, after previously saying that the vote should be held back for three months in order to allow Serie A to elect its president.

Tavecchio is the interim commissioner of Serie A after being nominated for the role by the FIGC in April last year.


Cagliari Apologise To Matuidi For Fan Racism

Cagliari Apologise To Matuidi For Fan Racism
Juventus’ midfielder Blaise Matuidi (R) talks with referee Gianpaolo Calvarese during the Serie A match between Cagliari Calcio and Juventus at the Sardegna Arena stadium in Cagliari, on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, on January 6, 2018. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP


Serie A club Cagliari apologised on Sunday to Blaise Matuidi for the racist abuse fans directed at the Juventus winger during the Italian champions 1-0 win in Sardinia on Saturday, the second time he has received such abuse in as many weeks.

Writing in French on their Twitter account, Cagliari apologised for the abuse, which took place late in the first half of a tense encounter at the Sardegna Arena following a clash between Matuidi and a Cagliari defender.

“You are a fantastic player and an example to young people. We want to apologise to you if you were insulted for the colour of your skin at the Sardegna Arena,” said the club.

“The Sardinian people want nothing to do with racism. Only ignorance can explain certain behaviour. Respect.”

After hearing the abuse from the stands Matuidi rushed to referee Giampaolo Calvarese but the official ignored the French international’s pleas to intervene and Medhi Benatia and Paulo Dybala had to calm their teammate down.

“Today I experienced racism during the match. Weak people try to intimidate with hate, I am not a hater and can only be sorry for those who set bad examples,” Matuidi said in a statement to AFP.

“Football is a way to spread equality, passion and inspiration and this is what I am here for. Peace.”

On Sunday Matuidi’s old club expressed their support for their former player, saying on Twitter that “The Paris Saint-Germain family is with you”.

The abuse Matuidi received at Cagliari came after similar racist chants directed at him during Juve’s 3-1 win at Hellas Verona late last month, for which Verona were fined 20,000 euros ($24,000) by the Italian league.