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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.

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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.

Roma’s American owner Pallotta banned for three months by UEFA

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AS Roma owner James Pallotta has been punished by UEFA for calling the officiating “an absolute joke” after Roma were bounced by Liverpool in last year’s UEFA Champions League.

UEFA announced on Friday that Pallotta had been given a three-month ban for “improper conduct.” UEFA stated that Pallotta is banned “from carrying out his function during UEFA competition matches in which he would otherwise participate, starting from AS Roma’s first UEFA competition match of the 2018/2019 season. In particular, the official may not be in the technical area or communicate directly or indirectly with the team’s players and/or technical staff during the match and may not enter the dressing room or tunnel before or during the match.”

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pallotta made headlines around the world for his reactions in Rome, including jumping into one of the city’s many famous fountains after Roma knocked out Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals.

However, against Liverpool, Roma’s dream run came to an end, with the Reds winning 7-6 on aggregate in a wild 180 minutes of action. Pallotta, speaking after Roma was knocked out, stated it was “an absolute joke” that UEFA didn’t have video assistant refereeing, which may have helped give Roma a penalty kick on two occasions.

While Pallotta may appeal, this suspension isn’t too serious. It appears that Pallotta can still sit in the owners box and attend UEFA matches, just not be in the technical area or in the tunnel before and during the game.

Roma lets loose on referee, from players to owner

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From the field to the board room, AS Roma is raging with Slovenian referee Damir Skomina after he denied multiple penalty shouts before granting one in stoppage time of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg between Liverpool and the Italian hosts.

[ MORE: Roma 4-2 (6-7 agg.) Liverpool ]

“It changes everything,” said Roma director of sport Monchi. “We conceded a goal that was offside in the first leg, here we had two penalties not given, one of which was a clear red card. … It’s time to raise our voices, not just Roma either, as Juventus suffered the same against Real Madrid. Italian football has to raise its voice, because what we saw tonight was shocking.”

Monchi points out that he’s spent the majority of his career in Spain, so this isn’t just pro-Italian refereeing. He’s going to find allies (!!!) in Juve, who grew enraged with English referee Michael Oliver after Real Madrid’s late penalty against the Turin powers.

The biggest gripe is with Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s handball block of a goal-bound effort, though Roma went on to score two more goals on the day including a penalty kick for a less clear handball against Ragnar Klavan.

Make no mistake, Liverpool did enough to deserve the win (even if Jurgen Klopp even admitted the Reds were lucky).

Roma defender Federico Fazio was also angry with the award of only three minutes of second half stoppage time.

And it went all the way to the top: American owner Jim Pallotta was enraged with Skomina.

“It’s absolutely clear that VAR is needed in the Champions League, because you can’t let stuff like this go,” Pallotta told reporters in the mixed zone, via Football Italia.

“You can all look at it yourself. Dzeko wasn’t offside, got taken down for a penalty. At the 65th minute, there was a handball that was obvious to everybody in the world except those on the pitch. In the 67th minute Schick gets taken down in the box, I mean it’s just… I know it’s difficult to ref, but it’s really embarrassing when we lose on aggregate like that… By the way, it should’ve been a red card, so would’ve been 10 men from the 63rd minute.

“Again, congratulations to Liverpool, they’re a great team, but if we don’t get VAR in the Champions League, stuff like this is an absolute joke.”

I Lupi manager Eusebio Di Francesco said protesting the uncalled penalties distracted from the comeback effort, and Roma legend Daniele De Rossi said the missed call was understandable, as he didn’t see it either. And he’s turned a bright light on his team’s performance.

“We’ve seen we’re not so far behind the others, so we must start thinking that Roma should have a Champions League semi-final once every three years, not once every 30. The club will work to make the team even stronger, the fans have followed us so passionately and something has been recreated with the fans that I haven’t seen since I was a child. Now we are all as one, we are united with the fans, and we can achieve great things together.”

Finally, this: