James Pallotta

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Totti’s departure puts pressure on Roma’s American owner

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ROME (AP) Former Roma captain Francesco Totti left his position within the club’s management on Monday in a move that will increase fan opposition to the team’s American owner.

While he has been a technical director since retiring from playing two years ago, Totti said he was left out of decisions about the hiring and firing of coaches and moves in the player transfer market.

“I never had the chance to express myself. They never involved me,” Totti said. “The first year that can happen but by the second (year) I understood what they wanted to do. … They knew of my desire to offer a lot to this squad but they never wanted it. They kept me out of everything.

“It’s a day that I hoped never would have come,” Totti added in a news conference at the Italian Olympic Committee.

After playing 25 seasons with his hometown club and leading the club to its last Serie A title in 2001, the 42-year-old Totti remains Roma’s most emblematic figure.

“Presidents come and go, coaches come and go, players come and go. But not emblems,” Totti said.

Totti’s departure comes a month after then-captain Daniele De Rossi announced he, too, was leaving Roma after the club surprisingly decided not to renew his contract.

Totti said Romans were being pushed out of Roma since James Pallotta and some fellow Boston executives purchased the club in 2011 – becoming the first foreign majority owners in Serie A.

“For eight years here, since the Americans came, they’ve done everything they could to sweep us aside,” Totti said.

Pallotta runs the club from Boston and has not been to Rome in more than a year, and Totti said that was problematic.

“When the boss isn’t around everyone does whatever they feel like,” Totti said. “That’s the case anywhere.”

Pallotta said last week in a long interview published on Roma’s website that he had offered Totti the role of technical director.

“This is a very important role at the club, easily one of the most important and influential roles in our football operations, and the fact that we want him to take on the role says everything about what we think of Francesco,” Pallotta said.

“I don’t know what is being said and by whom, because I’ve given up reading most of the media, but I believe Francesco already has great influence on our decision making.”

While Paulo Fonseca was hired from Shakhtar Donetsk last week as Roma’s new coach, Totti deflected reports that he had preferred Gennaro Gattuso or Sinisa Mihajlovic for the job.

“The only coach I called was Antonio Conte,” Totti said, referring to the new Inter Milan coach.

Roma is coming off one of its worst seasons in years, with a sixth-place finish in Serie A meaning it missed out on the lucrative Champions League. A year after reaching the semifinals, Roma was eliminated from the Champions League by Porto in the first knockout stage.

Roma has also been struggling to build a new stadium.

Pallotta first presented a plan for a new stadium in March 2014, saying that it would be ready for the 2016-17 season – yet construction has still not started because of a series of bureaucratic delays.

Asked what it would take for him to return to Roma, Totti replied: “First of all, different ownership.”

Totti also confirmed long-held speculation that the club forced him to retire from playing before he wanted to, and added that he had a six-year contract within management.

“There were a lot of promises made,” he said. “But in the end they weren’t kept.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Roma boss pens vivid 3,000-word open letter to fans

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Some fan bases probably wish their owner was as open as AS Roma’s James Pallotta, who has written a few thousand words on the struggles of i Lupi this season.

We can’t attest to how Roma’s supporters feel about Friday’s open letter, but neutrals will at the very least find entertainment in the American billionaire’s strong stance, vivid descriptions, and occasional NSFW language.

[ MORE: 3 key battles in UCL Final ]

Oh, and his defiance, via ASRoma.com:

“I understand the history of almost 3,000 years of Rome and I know how this works. If people think they’re going to drive me out, it’s just not going to happen.”

Pallotta has made no secret of his displeasure with Roma’s season, as the club finished sixth in Serie A and bowed out of the Champions League in the Round of 16.

That’s a far cry from last season, in which Roma came within one goal of stunning Liverpool in the UCL semifinal second leg and steadily rose up the table after a slow start.

This season saw the firing of the manager who engineered that rise, a sloppy handling of the end of club legend Daniele De Rossi’s tenure, and the maddening but necessary departure of a sporting director who Pallotta later claimed “had no Plan B.”

Pallotta, to his credit, is owning it. He’s putting plenty of blame on Monchi — now sporting director of Sevilla — who he brands “a mistake” without explicitly naming him, even in the removal of Di Francesco later in the season.

When things were going sideways, Di Francesco told us he may have lost the dressing room and if we think it’s time for him to go, then he will go without a fight. Di Francesco has always been first-class. He is a true gentleman. He was clearly put in what I think was a tough position this past year and was collateral damage. That’s something that we all regret.

Roma is without a manager now, but all is not lost; Roma finished three points out of third and scored the fourth-most goals in the league. It’s aging roster would look a lot better if Cenzig Under, Nicolo Zaniolo, and Justin Kluivert took the next steps in their development, which makes the next choice as manager even more crucial to the short-, medium- and long-term.

More arrests made in corruption scandal over Roma stadium

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ROME (AP) The president of Rome’s city council has been arrested for allegedly accepting bribes in a widening corruption scandal centered on Roma’s long-delayed plans to build a new stadium.

Marcello De Vito of the governing 5-Star Movement was picked up by police for allegedly taking payments from the stadium’s former constructor, Luca Parnassi, to help advance the project. Three other people were also arrested.

Parnassi was among nine people arrested in June when the scandal was first revealed.

Roma’s American president, James Pallotta, first presented the stadium plan in March 2014, saying that it would be ready for the 2016-17 season – yet construction has still not started.

Pallotta has since cut ties with Parnassi and is currently negotiating a 105 million euro ($120 million) deal to buy the proposed stadium site in Tor di Valle himself.

Tor di Valle is located about halfway between downtown and Leonardo Da Vinci Airport.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Pallotta perplexed at Monchi’s departure, said director had no ‘Plan B’

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AS Roma owner Jim Pallotta is set for a much different April than his previous one.

It was about 11 months ago that the American businessman was swimming in a Roman fountain following an upset of Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

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Now, he’s fired coach Eusebio Di Francesco and watched as sporting director Monchi left his position for a spot back home at Sevilla.

And the latter part has him perplexed, especially as Monchi used his departure to say that Pallotta wanted to opposite of his sporting director.

Pallotta has taken the opportunity to explain his feelings via the Roma web site.

“In November, when our season was going from bad to worse and everyone could see that the coach was struggling to get a reaction out of the players, I asked Monchi for his Plan B should things continue to get worse. He had sole responsibility for football operations at Roma but he didn’t have a Plan B. That was November. He said his Plan B was just to keep doing the same as Plan A.

“So, if I read or listen to the radio interviews he’s giving where he says that the idea of the ownership was different to his and that is why he left, please let me know what Monchi wanted to do differently? He asked me to trust him and let him do it his way. We gave him complete control and now we have more injuries than we’ve ever had and are in danger of missing out on finishing in the Top 3 for the first time since 2014.”

Also notable, as Claudio Ranieri shepherds Roma through life without a permanent manager, are reports that Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is Pallotta’s preferred next-in-line.

Calcio Mercato says Roma would offer the embattled Chelsea boss a path back to Serie A, where he shown with Napoli before being publicly courted by the Stamford Bridge set.

Roma is four points behind Milan and six back of third-place Inter, and is a Lazio win away from sitting sixth. I Lupi was stunned by Porto in the Champions League, and waxed by Fiorentina in the Italian Cup.

Napoli, Inter, and Juventus are still on Roma’s fixture list with 10 matches to play.

Roma fires Eusebio Di Francesco amidst Ranieri reports

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AS Roma has fired manager Eusebio Di Francesco in the wake of a UEFA Champions League exit and league loss to rivals Lazio.

[ MORE: 2nd leg recap ]

“On behalf of myself and everyone at AS Roma, I’d like to thank Eusebio for his work and his commitment,” said Roma chairman Jim Pallotta. “Since returning to the club, Eusebio has always acted professionally and put the club’s needs ahead of his own. We all wish him well for the future.”

Di Francesco led Roma to a third-place finish last season and a berth in the UEFA Champions League semifinals. This year, i Lupi is in a battle for third and exited the UCL in the Round of 16, falling to Porto on Wednesday.

It’s a bit harsh on the former Roma player, who took over a club that sold Mohamed Salah and Antonio Rudiger and watched as Alisson Becker and Radja Nainngolan were sold this summer.

Claudio Ranieri is a rumored replacement for Di Francesco.