Archive for the ‘italy’ Category

Calciopoli Figure Moggi Receives Suspended Sentence

January 9, 2009

According to various Italian news agencies, former Juventus boss Luciano Moggi, the central figure in the 2006 Calciopoli scandal that rocked Italian soccer, will receive an 18-month suspended sentence. His son Alessandro, who was also involved in the match fixing scheme, received a 14 month suspended sentence.

Moggi allegedly influenced referees and players in the match fixing scandal that saw Juventus stripped of the 2006 Scudetto and relegated while AC Milan Fiorentina were docked points with the Viola, who were never directly linked to the scandal, losing its Champions League spot. The relegation of Juventus led to an exodus of quality players to other teams in Europe.

Of course the paymasters behind the entire scandal appear to have gotten away without a scratch.

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Pescara Players, Fans In Revolt

December 3, 2008

Do you think bailouts are just for banks and automakers? Think again.

Yesterday, thirteen players of Italian Serie C (Lega Pro) side Pescara have asked the club’s board to release them since they have not been paid in months. In fact, they’ve been paid only once since the season began as the club continues to crumble financially. If the club does not pay the players and coaching staff’s wages in the next 20 days, a court proceeding will decide on whether to declare them bankrupt, or accept a local government bailout plan to infuse circa 3.2 million euros into the club to keep it afloat.

Pescara last played in Serie A back in 1993, but they were unable to keep pace with the bigger, more well run clubs and languished in Serie B and C, where they are now five points behind the leaders and with some chance of earning promotion – provided the club does not collapse.

The Abruzzo club was already on the verge of bankruptcy when in October, the club’s management sold it to Swiss firm Eurocat – but the downward spiral continued. And now, local and national politics are involved since a group of Pescara fans wrote to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, warning that if their club collapses, there may be repercussions in an upcoming regional election.

Berlusconi has been supporting Giovanni Chiodi, a candidate for the presidency of the Abruzzo region for the Popolo delle Liberta (PDL). Elections will be held on December 14th, after the resignation of regional president Ottaviano Del Turco for his role in a financial scandal.

The fans’ letter also suggested that Berlusconi back away from supporting Gerardo Soglia, a former club president who was elected to the parliament from Berlusconi’s PDL party. The fans say Soglia is responsible for running the club into the ground, leading to the October sale and their current state of affairs. To punish Soglia, the fans want to vote against the PDL.

To make matters even more intriguing, the local bailout plan for the club is being supported by Pescara mayor Luciano D’Alfonso, a political opponent of Soglia. But even D’Alfonso may end up in hot water himself since the bailout plan will likely mean the Italian football federation will relegate the club to the fourth or fifth division.

Lavezzi: Not Going Anywhere

December 2, 2008

Napoli’s Argentine wunderkind Ezequiel Lavezzi is a man in demand these days. The spark he brought to newly promoted Napoli last year kept them in the upper half of the table and this year, along with fellow countryman German Denis and a host of others, has Napoli up to fourth place in Serie A.

“El Pocho” is often compared to Argentina legend (and current national coach) Diego Maradona but he has a style all his own. Lavezzi has blazing speed and technique but his uncanny abilty to change speed and direction (on or off the ball) makes him a danger to any defense. The list of defenders he has faked out of their jock strap this year alone is long and distinguished.

Almost on cue, deep pocketed Chelsea has taken a shine to the Napoli ace but last night he told the Italian press he is not interested. “I am happy at Napoli,” he said. “I like the city of Naples and the team so I’ll stay here – it’s better than going to England.” Not the kind of thing feedback Permiership clubs are used to receiving.

But now Inter president Massimo Moratti is talking about trying to pry him loose from Napoli, a club which can always use the money but one which also values pride and loyalty above all. They’ve been eyeing him along with Chelsea’s Didier Drogba but that deal is looking less likely so their focus is now on Lavezzi. Regardless of Napoli’s statements that he is not for sale, we can expect to see lots of leaks from Inter to the Gazetta Dello Sport with outlandishly high offers for Lavezzi, all in an attempt to put pressure on the Napoli board.

Given his huge impact on the team, his cult hero status in the city, and the throngs of fans who show up every night at Castel Volturno just to get a look at El Pocho, its hard to think of any offer high enough to convince the club to sell.

Happy Thanksgiving Soccer Fans!

November 27, 2008

Well, I’m off with my wife to the other side of Italy for a few days to check out the heel of the boot. We hope soccer fans everywhere have a great Thanksgiving and we’ll be back up online this weekend.

In the meantime, check out my new article at Soccer Times which gets more in depth on a few American players (pictured here) which readers have said they’d like to know more about. To find out who they are, check the link above.

Photo by Rodrigo Erades

Tough Draw For USA In 2009 Confederations Cup

November 22, 2008

Courtesy of U.S. Soccer Communications Center:

U.S. TO PLAY WORLD CHAMPIONS ITALY, BRAZIL AND EGYPT IN GROUP B
OF 2009 FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP IN SOUTH AFRICA

CHICAGO (Nov. 22, 2008) – The United States has been drawn into a powerful Group B along with reigning world champions Italy, five-time World Cup winners Brazil, and reigning African Cup of Nations winners Egypt for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup that will be played from June 14-28, 2009, in South Africa. The U.S. kicks off action against Italy on June 15 at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria, and then faces Brazil on June 18 in the same venue. The United States finishes group play on June 21 against Egypt at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

Tournament hosts South Africa will open the event against Iraq on June 14 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The two teams were drawn into Group A along with current European Champions Spain and OFC Champions New Zealand. Played in four venues during two weeks, the tournament will serve as excellent preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. [Opponent Capsules]

The U.S. opens Group B play against Italy, in what will be the fourth time the teams have met in a major international tournament. Most recently, the U.S. and Italy faced off the thrilling 1-1 draw in the second match of group play in the 2006 FIFA World Cup on June 17, 2006, in Kaiserslautern. One of the finest performances in team history, that match is as memorable for the massive support of U.S. fans as for the team holding off the Italians after being reduced to nine men. The United States has never beaten the current world champions, holding a lifetime record of 0-3-3. Italy, currently ranked No. 3 in the world, is participating in their first Confederations Cup.

Next up is a clash with two-time Confederations Cup winners Brazil, who qualified for the tournament after blanking favored Argentina 3-0 in the final of the 2007 Copa America. The U.S. and Brazil are meeting for the third time in Confederations Cup play, having met previously in the middle group matches both in 1999 in Mexico and the 2003 edition in France. Brazil captured 1-0 victories in both contests, Ronaldinho getting the winner in Guadalajara in 1999 and Adriano in Lyon four years later. Overall, the U.S. holds a 1-12-0 lifetime record against the five-time world champions, the lone victory coming Feb. 10, 1998, a 1-0 win in the semifinals of the Gold Cup. The teams faced off last year in Chicago, goals by Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey putting the U.S. level before Ronaldinho broke the draw en route to a 4-2 win for Brazil on Sept. 9, 2007 in front of 43,543 at Soldier Field.

The U.S. closes out group play against Egypt on June 21 in Rustenburg. They teams have only played once before, Egypt going out 3-1 winners on June 8, 1987, in Seoul, Korea Republic. The Pharaohs have been one of the dominant sides on the African continent, claiming a record six Africa Cup of Nations titles, including back-to-back triumphs in 2006 and 2008. Egypt is playing in their second FIFA Confederations Cup, having participated in the 1999 event in Mexico.

The U.S. will play its first two matches at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria. The stadium currently has a seating capacity of 45,000. Opened in 1903, the ground hosted matches for the 1995 Rugby World Cup and 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. It is now used by Mamelodi Sundowns as their home ground.

The match against Egypt will be held at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg. The stadium is named after the Bafokeng people who live in the area. Upon completion, the stadium will seat 42,000. The South African national team played a FIFA World Cup qualifying game in the venue against Bakino Faso in 2001.

The U.S. is playing in its fourth FIFA Confederations Cup tournament, having appeared most recently in the 2003 event in a group with Brazil, Turkey and Cameroon. The team reached the semifinals of the 1999 tournament, beating Germany and New Zealand in group play before losing to hosts Mexico in the semifinals. The matches next year will represent the USA’s second time playing on South African soil, the team having defeated South Africa 1-0 on Nov. 11, 2007, in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

2009 FIFA Confederations Cup
Group B Schedule
Date Match Venue Time (local/ET)
June 15 Brazil-Egypt Mangaung/Bloemfontein 4 p.m. / 10 a.m.
USA-Italy Tshwane/Pretoria 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.
June 18 USA-Brazil Tshwane/Pretoria 4 p.m. / 10 a.m.
Egypt-Italy Johannesburg 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.
June 21 Italy-Brazil Tshwane/Pretoria 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.
Egypt-USA Rustenburg 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.

Szetela Watches From The Bench As Brescia Drops Another

November 8, 2008

Brescia continued its slide in Serie B, losing its second match in a row, this time to 15th place Piacenza, 1-0. American Danny Szetela appears to have fallen out of favor with coach Nedo Sonetti, having been bumped by 23 year-old Marco Zambelli the past two weeks. Of course the more Sonetti seems to tinker with the lineup, the more inconsistent (and less successful) the side has been. So, Szetela may be able to work his way back into the mix – we’ll see.

Elsewhere in Italy, Gabriel Ferrari’s Perugia side takes on Foggia tomorrow afternoon in Serie C competition. Meanwhile, Vincenzo Bernardo and the Napoli reserves take on Bari in reserve league play. Bernardo leaves for Madrid next week to join the US U-2o squad for a training camp. This week, LFV will chat with Bernardo before he leaves for Madrid to discuss, among other things, what its like to train each week with two of Serie A’s hottest young strikers: German Dennis and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

More on the U-20 Camp courtesy of US Soccer Communications:

U-20 MNT TO HOLD TRAINING CAMP IN MADRID, SPAIN: U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Thomas Rongen has named 18 players that will travel to Madrid, Spain, from Nov. 15-23. The team will play games against club teams, with dates and opponents to be confirmed. The squad boasts nine professional players who play in seven different leagues around the world, including a pair from Germany’s Hertha Berlin in Bryan Arguez and Alfredo Morales and a duo from Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas in Josh Lambo and Anthony Wallace. Tristan Bowen of the Los Angeles Galaxy, Jorge Flores of Chivas USA and Abdusalam Ibrahim from Toronto FC round out the MLS contingent. All five of the domestically-based youth players play for clubs from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy: Gale Agbossoumonde (IMG Academies), Anthony Arena (Crossfire Premier), Bill Hamid (D.C. United Academy), Josh Hernandez (FC Dallas Juniors) and Zarek Valentin (PA Classics). Hamid replaces fellow U.S. U-17 Residency player Earl Edwards, who was named to the original roster. The U-20 Men’s National Team is preparing for CONCACAF Under-20 World Cup qualifying, which will take place in Trinidad early in 2009.

U.S. U-20 MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (Anandale, Va.; D.C. United Academy), Josh Lambo (Middleton, Wis.; FC Dallas)
DEFENDERS (5): Gale Agbossoumonde (Syracuse, N.Y.; IMG Academy), Anthony Arena (Kenmore, Wash.; Crossfire Premier), Kyle Davies (Daniville, Calif.; Southampton FC), Zarek Valentin (Lancaster, Pa.; PA Classics), Anthony Wallace (St. Petersburg, Fla.; FC Dallas)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Bryan Arguez (Miami; Hertha Berlin), Jorge Flores (Anaheim, Calif.; Chivas USA), Gregory Garza (Grapevine, Texas; Sporting Lisbon), Josh Hernandez (Dallas, Texas; FC Dallas Juniors), Jared Jeffrey (Richardson, Texas; Club Brugge), Alfredo Morales (Berlin; Hertha Berlin), Giuseppe Nazzani (Reggio Emilia, Italy; Bologna FC)
FORWARDS (4): Vincenzo Bernardo (Madison, N.J.; SSC Napoli), Tristan Bowen (Van Nuys, Calif.; Los Angeles Galaxy), Abdusalam Ibrahim (Richfield, Minn.; Toronto FC), Jose Torres (Coronado, Calif.; Loros de Colina)

Say It Ain’t So Stefan!

November 7, 2008


Imagine having a stadium named after one of your club and country’s greatest sporting heros, the man who led your team to winning its first World Cup? Now imagine decades later the club changing the stadium’s name of for “business reasons?” Well, that may be in store for 1FC Kaiserslautern’s Fritz Walter Stadion.

Long time Kaiserslautern great Fritz Walter survived World War II and captained Germany to winning the 1954 World Cup, its first of three. The stadium, one of Germany’s most scenic, was built in 1920 and was renamed in Walter’s honor on his 65th birthday in 1985.

American fans remember the stadium as not only the first US friendly ever hosted abroad (a 1-0 win over Poland in March 2006) but as the site of the USA’s incredible 1-1 draw with eventual champion Italy in the 2006 World Cup.

Now, 1FCK president Stefan Kuntz has told the Mannheimer Morgen that “for business reasons.” the club may need to sell the stadium name to make ends meet. The earliest this could happen, according to Kicker, is next season.

Its clear that the small market 1FCK, comparable to the Green Bay Packers NFL franchise, would not make this decision unless they had no other choice. Clubs like 1FCK, with four Bundesliga titles to its credit, are having a difficult time keeping up year-in year-out with bigger teams like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, let alone competing for European silverware. But with just about every Bundesliga stadium selling its name to a sponsor, a team can fall even further behind financially if they don’t.

Regardless of what the club eventually decides, Kuntz has assured Kaiserslautern fans “In any case, we’ll make sure it still honors the memory of Fritz Walter.”

Beckham Loan To Milan: Find A Comfy Spot On The Bench

October 24, 2008

OK, so the LA Galaxy will loan David Beckham to AC Milan so he can stay fit for duty with England’s team as they aim for World Cup qualification. After watching him spend so much time wither injured or back in England, I’ll be the Galaxy management are glad that Silvio Berlusconi will be picking up his salary tab for a few months.

Still, its hard to see where Becks would fit into a Milan scheme except on the bench. They prefer to play in a 4-3-2-1 formation, letting Kaka and Ronaldinho run off a lone striker such as Andrei Shevchenko. The only way Becks breaks into this lineup would if he bumped Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo or Massimo Ambrosini – I’m just not seeing it.

Look for Beckham to play the role of super-sub while helping the club to sell millions of new AC Milan jerseys, all the while trying to keep himself in England manager Fabio Capello’s good graces. Let’s just hope that when he returns to LA next spring, he shows up ready to play.

Szetela Scores Winner For Brescia

October 18, 2008

American midfielder Danny Szetela scored his first goal of the Serie B season in a 3-2 Brescia win over Triestina. Szetela’s scored the winner in the 82nd minute when Triestina’s keeper Michael Aggazzi’s poor clearance fell to an onrushing Szetela, enabling him to blast a shot home to make it 3-2.

The much needed win, only Brescia’s third of the season, moved Szetela’s club into 9th place with 13 points. Next week Szetela and Brescia will be looking to collect three points as they travel to lowly Modena which is hovering just above the relegation zone with five points after nine matches.

Elsewhere, Freddy Adu played 11 substitute minutes for Monaco after the team was already down 2-1, a score which stood until the final whistle. Carlos Bocanegra and Stade Rennais take on Auxerre in a Sunday afternoon match.

*The goal was also Szetela’s first ever goal for Brescia since joining the club last year.

Bernardo Signs 3-Year Deal With Napoli

September 24, 2008

US national youth team player Vincenzo Bernardo has just signed a 3-year professional deal with Serie A side Napoli which ties him to the club until 2011. Currently with the Napoli reserve team, the 18 year-old New Jersey native saw his fortunes rise this fall after a strong reserve friendly performance against the first team a few weeks ago.

Head coach Edy Reja was so impressed with the young Bernardo’s play in the match that he called him in to train with the first team for a week where he showed well and impressed team scouts (as well as some suitors from England and Spain). By the end of the week, Bernardo’s agent called him to inform him that the club wanted to offer him a professional contract and by last weekend, the deal was done. “Its a dream come true, I’m very thankful” remarked Bernardo after a training session today at the club’s Castel Volturno training grounds.

While Napoli already has a great deal of first team talent at forward, the club indicates Bernardo is likely to be called into first team training when Reja needs to shore up his options, including during UEFA and Coppa Italia weeks and around FIFA international match weeks when the team loses several forwards to national team duty. While they appear to have future plans for him, whether he can crack the first 18 this year remains to be seen but Bernardo is realistic: “There could be a chance at some point but I need to work hard, be patient, and see what happens. Just to be training with the first team is a good experience. ”

On training with players like Argentine internationals Ezequiel Lavezzi and German Denis, or Uruguayan international Walter Gargano, Bernardo remarked that: “It definitely raises the bar on everything you need to do since everyone is watching and you are going up against some really good players – you need to perform. They are not only good players but also great people, they are ready to help you and there is a real good feeling with them.”

When asked if he’ll be getting any future chances with the US National Youth teams, Bernardo stated: “Its always an honor to be called in represent your country. If they call, I’ll be there any time they want me.

In the meantime, Bernardo will continue to train alternately with the reserve and first teams and is looking forward to the reserve team’s first league match against Ascoli on October 11th.