Serie C

Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for Lega B

Palermo still waiting to see where it will play next season

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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.

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Pro Piacenza kicked out of Serie C after 20-0 loss

Pro Piacenza
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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) A third-tier Italian soccer team has been kicked out of the league after losing a match 20-0 on Sunday.

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Lega Pro, the governing body of Serie C, announced the exclusion of Pro Piacenza on Monday.

Pro Piacenza, which has financial problems and hadn’t paid its players or staff, needed to present a team for the match or would have been thrown out of the division after having already forfeited three matches.

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The team turned up at Cuneo with just seven players, the minimum number required. They were all between 16 and 19 years old, with captain Nicola Cirigliano listed as the coach, and one of the players forgot his identity card, so the masseur was forced to play.

Cuneo led 16-0 at halftime of the match, which Italian football federation president Gabriele Gravina said would be “the last farce.”

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.”

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Sarri says he’s “hermetically-sealed” in his office each day

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When you consider all the work Maurizio Sarri puts into getting ready for a match, it makes a little more sense that the anxious magician winds up with odd habits like chewing on cigarettes during the game.

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The Chelsea boss, 59, gave an interview to Corriere dello Sport where he admits he spends 10 hours a day getting ready for matches, (perhaps) joking that he doesn’t allow himself to be disturbed.

It’s a habit that came later in his managerial career, and one he believed propelled him to the stage he now ascends each weekend at Stamford Bridge and around the Premier League and Europa League. From The London Evening Standard:

“I got a house… in Effingham, so they lock me up in my hermitic seal and if they knock, I don’t answer the door. I am immersed in my world.

“I achieved this almost at the age of 60. I don’t need to thank anyone other than those who cared for me, supported me and understood me, but not those who tried to exploit me. … I spent my time in Serie C, that’s a league that grinds you down and spits you out.”

Sarri had 16 (sixteen!) jobs before he got a chance at even the Serie B level in Italy, but has now led Empoli to Serie A promotion and safety before guiding Napoli to wins in nearly two-thirds of their matches.

He’s only unbeaten at Chelsea, which seems an impossible standard to keep up.

Former Italy international Antonio Cassano retires

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GENOA, Italy (AP) Former Italy international Antonio Cassano has announced his retirement after training for less than a week with Virtus Entella.

Cassano says in a statement: “The day has come where you decide that it’s really over. I have other priorities now.”

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Entella, based near Cassano’s current home in Genoa, announced a week ago that Cassano would begin training with the club “without any contractual obligation.”

The 36-year-old Cassano last played for Sampdoria in May 2016. He signed with Hellas Verona before last season but left the club after two weeks, saying he missed his family.

Cassano scored 10 goals in 39 appearances for Italy. He was known almost as much for his passing wizardry and scoring abilities as for his temperamental behavior.

Cassano also played for Bari, his hometown club, and Roma, Real Madrid, Sampdoria, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Parma.

Entella is still waiting to learn which division it will play in this season. The club maintains it should be re-admitted to Serie B after Cesena was relegated because of false accounting.

Entella has played only one match in Serie C while awaiting the outcome of the legal fight.

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