Serie B

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USMNT forward Novakovich leaves Reading, moves to Serie B

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American forward Andrija Novakovich has signed with Serie B side Frosinone, bringing to an end his five years on the books at EFL Championship side Reading.

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The 22-year-old, who has made three appearances for the U.S. men’s national team, had previously been loaned out to Telstar (Dutch second division) where he scored 22 goals in 38 games two seasons ago, and Fortuna Sittard (Eredivisie) where he bagged 11 goals in 30 games last season.

Novakovich’s contract with Reading was set to expire next summer, thus the club elected to cash in (for a presumably small transfer fee) now. The player, meanwhile, can begin the next chapter of his career now, rather than waiting a further 12 months and enduring another loan move.

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Frosinone spent last season in Serie A before being relegated back to the second division after one season. They finished 19th, 13 points out of 17th.

Various reports had previously linked Novakovich to clubs in Germany and the Netherlands throughout the summer.

Novakovich spent all of the preseason as a member of Reading’s first team and gave a good account of himself, by all reports. He made his first appearance for the club in four years just last month, but had since fallen away from the first-team squad.=

Palermo still waiting to see where it will play next season

Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for Lega B
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MILAN (AP) It’s not quite as easy as ABC for Italian soccer club Palermo.

With the regular season over and the promotion playoffs looming, Palermo is waiting to see if it will compete for a spot in Serie A, end up staying in Serie B, or even get relegated to Serie C.

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The club, the oldest in Sicily, was relegated to Serie C by the Italian soccer federation for financial irregularities, but it has appealed that sanction. If the team is successful in court, Palermo could end up in the playoffs vying for a spot in the top division after finishing third in Serie B this season.

“As the players of Palermo Calcio we claim the right to be able to win on the field, while waiting at least for the ruling of the Federal Court of Appeal,” Palermo’s players said this week in a statement. “At that point we will accept the verdict whatever it is. But until then we will make our voice heard in every suitable and possible place because we have been robbed of our dignity. They have taken away from us the right to sweat for a goal.”

Palermo had hoped the playoffs, which start Friday, would be delayed until the appeals were decided, especially because the team’s place in the standings affects other clubs at both ends. But there is no date yet to decide Palermo’s fate.

With Palermo in third place, Foggia, Padova and Carpi would be automatically relegated as the bottom three, with Salernitana playing a survival playoff against Venezia. With Palermo last, eighth-place Perugia would play for a spot in Serie A.

The governing body of Serie B decided, however, that Foggia would be relegated regardless of Palermo’s placement, scrapping a possible playoff against Salernitana, while Perugia was still tapped to replace Palermo in the promotion playoffs.

But Foggia is also still hoping for a late reprieve. At the beginning of the season, Foggia was deducted 15 points for financial irregularities. That was reduced to six during the season and it hopes to have it further reduced by the Italian Olympic Committee on Friday.

Even a one-point reduction in the sentence would see Foggia move ahead of Salernitana in the standings.

The current chaos mirrors what happened at the beginning of the season.

In August, Serie B was reduced from 22 to 19 clubs following the bankruptcies of Avellino, Bari and Cesena.

Six clubs, including the four relegated at the end of previous season, all argued for a place in the second division. None of them were successful.

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

Chaos and ‘absurdity’ rule in Italy’s lower divisions

Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP
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ROME (AP) FIFA president Gianni Infantino labeled the chaos in Italy’s lower divisions an “absurdity.”

And it’s hard to argue with him.

Two months into the season, several clubs still don’t know which division they will be playing in and some teams have hardly played at all.

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The disorder is highlighting the failure of Italy’s complicated sports justice system.

On Wednesday, a regional appeals court overturned an Italian soccer federation decision from August that had reduced Serie B from 22 to 19 clubs.

The earlier decision by the federation’s emergency commissioner Roberto Fabbricini was made following the bankruptcies of Avellino, Bari and Cesena.

Virtus Entella, Novara, Pro Vercelli and Ternana – the four clubs relegated at the end of last season – plus Catania and Siena – which each lost in the Serie C playoffs – are all arguing for a place in the second division.

But it remains unclear which clubs might now be promoted or re-instated, or if the appealing teams might accept financial payoffs instead.

Eight rounds of Serie B have already been played among the existing 19 clubs, with one team sitting idle each weekend.

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Meanwhile, Entella has played only one game in Serie C, which is also known as the Lega Pro, while it awaits the outcome of its appeal.

Novara, Pro Vercelli, Ternana and Catania have also played fewer matches than the norm in the third division.

“It’s not tolerable that some squads still don’t know what league they will play in,” Infantino said at Monday’s election of Gabriele Gravina as president of the Italian federation. “It seems to me a real absurdity.

“Why does Italian football need outside help to resolve problems that can be resolved internally?” Infantino added, referring to the appeal to an ordinary (non-sports) court.

Fabbricini had been running the federation since February, after a failed vote to find a successor for Carlo Tavecchio, who resigned following Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup nearly a year ago.

There were also emergency commissioners of the federation following the 2006 Italian match-fixing and refereeing scandal known as “calciopoli.”

“Four and a half years of emergency commissioners in the last 20 years seems like an absurdity to me,” Infantino said. “There needs to be a strong federation now.”

The decision on how to resolve the situation will now likely be made by Gravina, who was previously the Serie C president.

The matter was taken to a regional appeals court after the clubs’ cases were rejected by multiple sports justice outlets.

The appeals court in Rome ruled that Fabbricini did not have the power to alter the number of squads in Serie B.

“The government didn’t have any desire to and no interests in intervening in sports justice,” government undersecretary and sports delegate Giancarlo Giorgetti told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “We were forced to take an initiative because nobody was meeting the interests of the clubs.”

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

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asdampf

Costly gelato: Palermo fined $12,000 for thrown cone

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ROME (AP) A cone of gelato thrown by a fan at the referee has resulted in a fine of 10,000 euros ($12,000) for Serie B team Palermo from the league’s disciplinary judge.

The incident occurred in the second half of Palermo’s 2-1 home loss to Foggia on Monday.

As the referee showed a red card to Palermo midfielder Igor Coronado, he was hit by the gelato cone on his right arm.

The referee, who was not injured, looked down at the gelato cone on the grass and Coronado then picked it up and tossed it off of the field.

Palermo was leading 1-0 at the time of the incident then conceded two late goals.

Palermo remained third in the standings, three points behind leaders Empoli and Frosinone.

Serie B coach delivers epic rant with Italy on verge of missing World Cup

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World Cup qualifying has presented soccer with one of the most unprecedented cycles in recently memory.

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With the U.S. Men’s National Team, Chile, Holland and other recognizable soccer nations already eliminated from reaching next summer’s World Cup, another giant is on the verge of missing the competition.

After falling to Sweden, 1-0, in their first leg meeting on Friday, Italy is hanging on for dear life as it awaits the return leg when the two European nations meet again Tuesday.

This is where Sandro Pochesci stepped in. Pochesci, a manager for Serie B side Ternana, delivered an epic rant following Italy’s defeat to Sweden.

“Italy used to be a team that beat other teams up (physically),” Pochesci said. “Now we’re the ones that get beat up and cry about it. When you bring all these foreigners to Italy, that’s what happens.

“We don’t play rough anymore. We go to Sweden and they’re the ones that beat us up. We’ve all become so entitled. Italian football is finished.

“We’re all spoiled. We’re going to get kicked out of the World Cup, and it’s because we’re scared. We go to Sweden and we’re scared to play. You can’t play being scared.

“If I see my team play scared, I’d just resign right away and we’ll put out a coach who has more courage than I do.

“It means that I’m teaching my team be scared. Honest, who did we lose to? We’re getting kicked out of the World Cup and all of us are losing.

“You journalists lose. Everyone who works in football loses. Italy loses. We need to wake up.”

Italy, four-time World Cup winners, haven’t missed out on qualification for the world’s greatest competition since 1958. Ironically enough, that tournament was held in Sweden.