Cause “it’s (expletive) Rome”: Pallotta on why AS Roma, American soccer, USWNT

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On the fourth anniversary of his installation as president of AS Roma, Jim Pallotta remains as fired up about the project as ever.

The American executive, 58, has a plan to lift Roma into the Top Ten clubs in Europe once i Lupi finally move into their own stadium, finding a critical stream of revenue.

He’s navigated the skepticism of Italian fans to raise Roma’s profile while pushing Serie A in progressive directions, implementing the lessons from a life as one of the world’s top hedge fund managers into the game of world football.

[ MORE: Danny Williams eyes the Premier League ]

In an exclusive interview with ProSoccerTalk, Pallotta discusses all of that as well as $100 million transfers, the USWNT’s pay rate, the future of soccer in America, and what he’s learned from the Premier League.

PST: It’s been interesting to monitor your acceptance by Roma’s faithful. You definitely knew that it would be a challenge as an American owner of a massive European club, but was it as challenging as you expected?

Jim Pallotta: “Way more. And it still is challenging, frankly. It’s just a very different sport in Europe, as you know, in how things are done than being a partner in the Celtics or any other sport in the U.S.

“At the end of the day it’s rewarding but some things we’ve done pretty well, some things we’ve made mistakes on, some things we’re doing resets on. Net-net, from the outside, most people would think we’re doing a really good job but I don’t have a lot of patience. I tend to dwell on the mistakes and the things that we still have to do than any of the things we’ve done that’ve been successful. It’s the way I managed hedge fund money for 25 years. I could have five stocks having a great day and one that wasn’t and I’d be p***** at myself.

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CAMBRIDGE, MA - JULY 27: Juan Manuel Iturbe #7 of AS Roma celebrates a goal with Edin Dzeko #9 during a friendly match against the Boston Bolts at Ohiri Field on July 27, 2016 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

“There are five or six levers that we haven’t even begun to pull in terms of the revenue side that gets us up there. We’re one of the top if not the fastest growing team in social media and digital media. We’re certainly leading the charge in terms of technology and things that we’re doing that no other club have done yet. We streamed a game live on Facebook, first team to that. Periscope, Twitter chats, Facebook chats, Medium and long format stories for our players and coaches. Using Google glasses and streaming it on YouTube and probably a dozen other things. We’re doing a lot of interesting stuff but we’ve got a long way to go, on merchandise, on stadium, on the entertainment district, I could go on and on, but the plan’s coming together.”

PST: Another way you’ve been out front is the devotion to analytics, something near and dear to your family as your son runs a company Tag that’s helped the club along.

JP: “We had an investment in his company Tag, but it’s one we use once in a while. We’ve built-in our own internal data analytics, both in Rome and Boston. We have some pretty sophisticated stuff that we’ve built on players, on performance on training. We just hired a couple more senior, not really data scientists, but higher end professors from a couple of schools where we respect what they’ve done.”

PST: Last year at BlazerCon, Roma execs discussed how Serie A would learn from the success of the Premier League. What have you taken from the PL?

JP: “What they do well, the Premier League, is the league is run well as a league. First and foremost they figured it out a dozen years ago or so. They run it well, more in line with U.S. leagues. Not quite the same but it’s 100 times better at the league level. That’s changing at the league level in Serie A and La Liga. It just has to.

It’s stupid that we don’t take advantage of the fan base that we have around the world.

“On the domestic TV front, Serie A has a really good TV deal. It’s the international one that’s not been a good one and La Liga just went up to $600 million and that’s way below the Premier League. There’s a massive opportunity in the next 10 years, let’s say, in Serie A, for the league TV rights to go up 10 times.”

PST: Roma isn’t waiting on the league, though. Your branding and marketing has been aggressive, and you have the advantage of having a unique and memorable color scheme and logo.

JP: “I’ll give you an example. There’ve been some studies that say the Roma colors are the most recognized colors in football in the world. Our designs we’ve been doing with Nike, we’ve been getting votes as one of the Top 100 uniforms. Copa 90 yesterday voted our away uniform the No. 1 uniform this year. I made us put on that wolf logo versus Romulus and Remus and people were going crazy. When I walk around a lot in the United States, if I’m playing golf and wearing a baseball hat, I’m either wearing a Roma hat with the colors or the one with just the wolf and everybody asks me, ‘What is that? The wolf head?’

A couple of years ago, I was asked why we looked at (investing in) Roma. I started talking about it and after a couple of minutes I said I could go on for 30 minutes but at the end of the day, it’s f****** Rome.”

PST: So I grew up a Celtics fan. We have that in common, but in Buffalo we learned to hate (Boston Bruins forward) Cam Neely, though I secretly loved him as a hard-nosed, nasty, but skilled player. Not necessarily the guy you expect to be on the board of AS Roma. What were you looking for in leadership when it comes to Roma’s board of directors?

JP: “The whole thing of putting the board together is people who could help us as opposed to getting a big name on there. Cam’s (pictured below) a good friend of mine for a long period of time, president of the Bruins, so he brings the sport side of it. Charlotte Beers is the original Madwoman and is great in terms of how we think about marketing and branding. Stanley Gold ran the Disney family, has a lot of experience in real estate and branding. John Galantic is the COO of Chanel. As we branch out our licensing business, John will be really helpful. The board has been put together with that thought in mind, versus just putting names on a board.”

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 7: Cam Neely, the newest inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, at his induction photo opportunity on November 7, 2005 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

PST: Let’s take a dive into American soccer. What’re your impressions of the game here?

JP: “You can split it up a whole bunch of different ways. The women’s program obviously has done a hell of a job in terms of how competitive they are.

I think the women should get paid more. I see the issue that they have and there’s no doubt in mind that they are all underpaid. By a wide margin, frankly.

“When I look at the youth program, they are getting better and better, and one of my guys Alex Zecca in the last 2 years has probably put together the best academy program of any European football team in the United States. We have 10 major academies, with weekly detailed programs that they all follow. We have coaches coming over looking for kids that we can bring back in Rome. Last week in Harvard we had four days of a number of kids coming in from around the country, and I think there are four kids we are bringing back to Rome to work and tryout. Kids from 12 years old up to 18. We kinda believe that we’re going to get a good look at a lot of the best kids in the U.S. that eventually can play in Europe. Those who are the best will because of the disparity of money and play today is just so different.

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“I think Don Garber has done a spectacular job with the MLS, but I don’t know how far it goes with European football. When I talk to a number of people who are owners, or looking to be owners — and I’ve looked myself too — it’s difficult to see how the monetary side of it closes, even in 5-10 years. In Europe, I think it actually widens.

“The TV contracts are just getting bigger and bigger versus the U.S. The ratings where they are, unless they move up a lot, and they aren’t going up because there are so many games being shown of European football. How many games are you going to watch? They’ve done a spectacular jobs building nice stadiums like in Kansas City, and you have a great local crowd, whether it’s Seattle, Portland or Kansas City, but it’s more localized versus global or even national. They’ve done a great job, but the numbers are gonna speak for themselves and we’ll see.”

PST: And beyond the TV numbers?

JP: “When the sponsorship deals for individual teams, or the merchandise sales, the TV contracts, or a stadium with 54,000 versus 22,000. Or if I have an entertainment complex that is a significant revenue driver, how do you get MLS teams to compete monetarily with European teams.

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“Just look at what Barcelona, Man Utd, and Real Madrid are bringing in. And we haven’t even touched the surface on TV deals with South America, which I think is going to take a while, Asia, which is massive potential, India, which everybody forgets is another 1.2 or 1.3 billion people and they want to make football huge, and Africa which a lot of great players are from. You haven’t really scratched the surface on transmissions to games in America. When you throw in another multi billions of people watching the games, there’s a lot of revenue potential, still in football.”

PST: When I spoke with Coach Spalletti last week, he spoke of having to sell a $100 million player because you could buy 2-3 very good players with that. It struck me that even a few years ago, we’d be saying 5-6 players. It’s not surprising that transfers have gotten this far, but what’s your take from a high level?

JP: “There are clearly some clubs that have decided that spending is okay with them in large amounts. In the case of Juventus, it looks like they’ll sell Pogba. Net-net, a neutral trade. I don’t think Juventus would’ve spent that much on a striker if they didn’t have Pogba behind it. Some teams have done a good job of putting together a really good team without spending stupid amounts of money.

Obviously Leicester struck lightning last year, but if you look at even Atletico Madrid being in the UCL final two of the last three years and their revenues are about 160-70 million Euros, or Sevilla and see how well they’ve done. That’s what we’re trying to build in our academy program.

“We won the scudetto in the U-18. I went and saw our 9 and 10 year olds and I was blown away at their potential. They are playing Barca-type passing styles at 9 and 10. The real goal is to build out a good internal program on one side to find a number of 16, 17 and 18 year olds who can play with you. And we’re spending a lot more time in building our data capabilities and our relationships on finding these players young here and a bunch of other places. Not just on the data side, but people with 30 years of football experience.

ROME, ITALY - DECEMBER 20: Umar Sadiq (C) with his teammates of AS Roma celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the Serie A match between AS Roma and Genoa CFC at Stadio Olimpico on December 20, 2015 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
(Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

“Look at this year’s team, we’ve got Umar Sadiq (above center) and Ezequiel Ponce who are 19-year-olds. We’ve got an 20-year-old from Senegal (Moustapha Seck) who we think is gonna be unbelievable. We’ve got an 18-year-old right back (Abdullahi Nura) that unfortunately tore his knee up a little but in a year or two has a big career. We have a 22-year-old Federico Ricci that’s gonna get time at right forward, Leandro Paredes who we loaned out and now will fight Daniele De Rossi for starting time. Gerson who we took from Brazil, at 19 looks really good. You have to have that combination of experience, both externally and internally, and you’ll have some players who would be worth a lot.

But I’d like to see teams in tact like the old Celtics in the 60s or the Bird years. It’s just not that easy to do anymore. That’s what we’re trying to do. It takes more time than I would like it to, but it’s happening.

Roma opens its 2016-17 Serie A campaign on Aug. 21 at home to Udinese, and will join the UEFA Champions League playoff round on Aug. 16 or 17.

USMNT vs Iran player ratings out of 10

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Christian Pulisic was injured scoring the lone goal of a 1-0 win over Iran as the United States men’s national team advanced to the World Cup’s Round of 16 on Tuesday.

WATCH IRAN vs USA FULL MATCH REPLAY

Fortunately for the USMNT, his exit from the match did not stop the Yanks from delivering a spot in the knockout rounds.

While the attack sputtered without him, the defenders and midfielders largely stepped into the fold as Yunus Musah and Co. helped Matt Turner keep a second clean sheet in three games.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]


Iran vs USA player ratings out of 10

Matt Turner: 6.5 — Some nervy moments late but the Arsenal backup again showed command of his box even when his body didn’t follow-through on good decisions.

Antonee Robinson: 9 — There’s an argument to be made that “Jedi” was the player of the round for the USMNT. He made a few rescue tackles and crosses from the left were few and far between.

Tim Ream: 8 — Quick, someone ask the coach if the guy who played every minute of the group stage is now a good fit for his system.

Cameron Carter-Vickers: 7 — Terrific when the U.S. had the ball and mostly good at the back, too. Is a good fit as a RCB in the back three, if that’s something Berhalter pulls out again.

Sergino Dest (Off 82′): 9 — While Pulisic’s goal was the moment of the game and Musah delivered several other moments, the fullbacks were the story of the entirety. Dest’s assist was massive, too (obviously).

USMNT player ratings
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Tyler Adams: 8 — He rarely has bad games in a USMNT shirt, and there’s a reason he has the captain’s arm band when most teams would’ve automatically allocated it to Pulisic.

Yunus Musah: 8.5 — It’s fair to say the U.S. hasn’t had as a complete a midfield duo in Musah and Adams in two decades, if not longer. Musah was monstrous

Weston McKennie (Off 65′): 6.5 –Still working his way to match sharpness over the hour-plus, and you can pen him in for a start and a sub in every game the rest of the way.

Tim Weah (Off 82′): 7.5 — The team’s second-biggest threat, could’ve had this match salted away at the hour mark with a hat trick on another day.

Josh Sargent (On 75′): 7 — Yeoman’s work from the Norwich City man, who limped off after landing awkwardly on the ball.

Christian Pulisic (Off HT): 8 — Scoring a round-clinching goal in a World Cup game is a really good way to cement your status in a national team program. His abdominal injury required a precautionary trip to the hospital. Fingers are crossed. So are toes. And any new appendages that might evolve.

Subs

Brenden Aaronson (On HT): 7 — A busy boy in his half, had Iran just as enraged as he’s had Premier League opponents

Kellyn Acosta (On 65′): 6.5  — Job done.

Haji Wright (On 75′): 6.5 — See above.

Walker Zimmerman (On 82′): 8 — A goal-line clearance and all the aerials duels you knew would be won when he was plugged into the lineup, were won. Three clearances in 10-plus minutes.

Shaq Moore (On 82′): 6 — Wyd, Gregg? Moore’s only job should’ve been to shut down crosses. He didn’t.


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USMNT player ratings
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USMNT tops Iran to set up World Cup date with Netherlands

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Christian Pulisic was injured scoring the lone goal of a 1-0 win over Iran as the United States men’s national team advanced to the World Cup’s Round of 16 on Tuesday.

The Yanks, runners-up in Group B, will play Group A winners Netherlands at 10am ET Saturday.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings vs Iran ]

Pulisic walked off the field on his power and appeared to have taken a hard shot to the midsection. We’ll update his condition as soon as it becomes available.

WATCH IRAN vs USA FULL MATCH REPLAY

England won the group while Iran bows out along with Wales.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]


What we learned from Iran vs USA

It’s difficult not to feel good for Christian Pulisic, no longer the young sparkplug hopeful of reaching his potential.

The next great American player actually became the next great American player, and our enduring World Cup-related memory of him was in qualification; The teenage goal scorer who didn’t find a teammate to also score in Couva as the Yanks crashed out of the tournament.

Now the enduring World Cup image of him, rightly so, is as a gamer. Pulisic scored a round-sealing goal while getting kicked in the nether region.

Then his teammates needed to hold on tight.

They mostly did! The USMNT stayed firm after Gregg Berhalter stopped going for the second goal, removing several attackers in favor of Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore.

It was nervy, but they did it. And the U.S. moves forward…


Stars of the Show

Christian Pulisic

Antonee Robinson

Tyler Adams

Majid Hosseini

Tim Ream

USMNT player ratings
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Christian Pulisic goal video: Dest cues up USMNT star

How to watch Iran vs USA live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Tuesday Nov. 29
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

For Iran, it’s about riding the momentum of a huge win after finding inspiration in a huge loss. There’s an ocean’s worth of difference in emotion between the 6-2 tournament-opening loss to England in Al Rayyan and the 2-0 triumph over Wales In the same city. Can Mehdi Taremi or Sardar Azmoun succeed where Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling could not and break down the USMNT defense for a goal?

Meanwhile, the Yanks may still be lamenting a 1-1 draw with Wales as much as they are celebrating a strong performance that kept them unbeaten against England at the World Cup after a scoreless draw with Gareth Southgate’s men In Al Khor. Gregg Berhalter has to find a way to unlock the USMNT’s final-third woes when they hit Al Khor on Tuesday.

There has also been some off-field tension brewing between the U.S. and Iran surrounding this game, as Gregg Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams responded to in a tense press conference amid questions from the Iranian press.


Iran quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 20
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group A)
Coach: Dragan Skocic
Key players: Ehsan Hajsafi, Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi

USA quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 16
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 9
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (3rd place)
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Key players: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams

Australia vs Denmark: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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This will be an epic battle in Group D as Australia and Denmark can both reach the last 16 of the World Cup heading into their final group game.

STREAM LIVE AUSTRALIA v DENMARK

After their superb win against Tunisia last time out, Australia know a win against Denmark puts them in the last 16 of the World Cup for just the second time in their history. Graham Arnold has had plenty of criticism for the way his team play but they were totally committed against Tunisia and always carried a threat on the counter. They will have to put in a very similar display against the talented Danes but a point could well be enough as Tunisia would have to beat France in the other game in Group D to complicate matters further for Australia and Denmark.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

As for Denmark, they have had a very poor tournament so far. They were woeful in attack against Tunisia in an opening game stalemate, while they were beaten by France last time out and Kasper Hjulmand has failed to get his team going in attack. Christian Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are trying to drive Denmark on from midfield but they just haven’t look dangerous going forward. They have to win against Australia and then hope Tunisia doesn’t beat France and it goes down to goal difference. 

[ MORE: Group D standings, schedule, scores ]

Here is everything you need for Australia vs Denmark.


How to watch Australia vs Denmark live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Wednesday, November 30
Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Australia will set up exactly the same as they did against Tunisia as they will whip in balls to Mitchell Duke who was the hero with his superb flicked header. Both Duke and Arnold pointed to the ‘Aussie Spirit’ getting them the win against Tunisia and there is a real grit and determination about this team.

Denmark know they have to win, so they will go for a more attack-minded lineup and they have the quality to beat Australia. They will likely start Braithwaite and Dolberg as they try to get something going in attack and this is basically a knockout game in the group stage.


Australia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 38
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified from AFC via the intercontinental playoffs
Coach: Graham Arnold
Key players: Mathew Ryan, Aaron Mooy, Mathew Leckie

Denmark quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 10
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group F)
Coach: Kasper Hjulmand
Key players: Kasper Schmeichel, Simon Kjaer, Christian Eriksen


World Cup 2022 odds: Favorites, underdogs, group stage winners

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The World Cup 2022 odds are already intriguing.

Who’s going to lift the World Cup trophy on Sunday, Dec. 18, and what are the current betting odds for them to do so?

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Odds for not only who will be crowned world champions this winter in Qatar, but also for each one of the eight groups, were posted.

Check out the 2022 World Cup winners betting odds below, provided by our partner, PointsBet.


World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!


World Cup 2022 odds – winners (As of November 29)

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links. Here are the odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.

Brazil +250
France +550
Spain +650
Argentina +800
England +900
Germany +1200
Portugal +1200
Netherlands +1400
Croatia +5000
Belgium +6600
Denmark +6600
Uruguay +8000
Switzerland +8000
USA +10000
Morocco +10000
Serbia +15000
Senegal +15000
Poland +20000
Saudi Arabia +30000
Mexico +50000
Australia +50000
Ghana +50000
Japan +50000
South Korea +75000
Cameroon +100000
Costa Rica +100000
Tunisia +200000
Qatar – Eliminated
Canada – Eliminated
Ecuador – Eliminated
Wales – Eliminated
Iran – Eliminated


World Cup odds – group stage winners (At start of tournament, November 20)

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links. Here are the odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.

Group A

Netherlands -223
Senegal +400
Ecuador +550
Qatar +1600

Group B

England -304
Wales +550
USA +600
Iran +1800

Group C

Argentina -223
Poland +450
Mexico +450
Saudi Arabia +2500

Group D

France -250
Denmark +275
Tunisia +1400
Australia +2000

Group E

Spain -112
Germany +110
Japan +1200
Costa Rica +5000

Group F

Belgium -200
Croatia +250
Morocco +1000
Canada +1200

Group G

Brazil -250
Switzerland +500
Serbia +600
Cameroon +1200

Group H

Portugal -154
Uruguay +200
Ghana +1100
South Korea +1100


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