If Serie A officials are looking for innovative ways to get the axe, they could do worse than follow the lead of those featured in this week's Offside.
In the third minute of the Napoli v Lazio match the visitor went ahead thanks to a goal by Miroslav Klose. The referee allowed and then disallowed the goal after the German player admitted having touched the ball with his hand. Congratulations to Klose for a show of honesty that is far too rare in modern sport.
Juve and Napoli reign in Serie A
Is it possible that Serie A has already found its protagonists after only five rounds? Juventus and Napoli are already clear leaders in the top echelon of Italian football, leading by three points over their nearest rivals. For an answer to my question, however, we won't have to wait much longer. In the next round of Serie A, Napoli visits newly-promoted Sampdoria, the surprise team of the season so far. And Juventus has a difficult customer on Saturday at home, a Roma team that managed only one point out of two consecutive home matches.
"Nobody is stronger than we are" are the famous words Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic may regret having uttered only a few days ago. The statement came before the home defeat at the hands - and feet - of Genoa, and the 0-3 result in Naples on Thursday. Will he still be in Rome by Christmas?
Who needs Union protection?
Not Roma midfielder Alessandro Florenzi, one of the revelations in this season's Serie A. Until last week his salary was the minimum allowed for junior players: $34,000 per year. But he started the season in amazing fashion, becoming a first-choice midfielder for the first team. So, spurred on by his manager Alessandro Lucci, the club has decided to increase his salary ... by a meagre 2000% per cent. He will put his signature to a new contract worth $600,000 per year, next week. Who says football managers are parasites?
Call to arms
Cagliari and its chairman Massimo Cellino are in big trouble. The club called to arms all supporters so that they would, believe it or not, force their way into their stadium, which is still under construction. The local regional government withdrew permission for the match against Roma to be played behind closed doors, Roma sought all three points, the Federation promptly obliged, and all hell broke loose. The Cagliari Board will meet on October 1, and will discuss Cellino's suspension from chairmanship of the club. It’s a joke, as he is the majority shareholder. Meanwhile, Cagliari is losing money, supporters and credibility.
Sacchi on the move
Arrigo Sacchi is on the move! He was in Paris a few days ago, more precisely at the Camp des Loges in Saint-Germain-en-Layse. He was there to check up on his long-time associate Carlo Ancelotti. With Sacchi now in charge of the so-called Technical Sector of the Italian Football Federation, don't be surprised if Ancelotti becomes the coach of the Italian National team, in about three years time. Any bets?
Milan v Cracow
The two cities are in the running to be the "European Sport capital" in 2015. The choice is in the hands of European officials who met Turin’s Mayor Piero Fassino the Councillor for Sport, Stefano Gallo, last week. The decision will be announced on November 7. The winning city will host a series of important events in the lead up to 2015 including the World Masters Games 2013, three editions of the golf Asian Tour, and the final of the UEFA European League in 2014.
Zeman in the limelight
When Roma’s officials chose the controversial Zdenek Zeman as the team's coach for the current season, they must have known it would not all be plain sailing. And so it has proven, even so early in the season. After the cancellation of the match against Cagliari owing to the stadium not being available, Zeman said it was only too obvious that this degree of incompetence should have seen the three points awarded to Roma.
Zeman, meanwhile, had a few nice words for Ciro Ferrara, the current Sampdoria coach and former Juventus star. When Ferrara accused him of stirring trouble in the late 1990s with a string of accusation against Juventus, Zeman calmly pointed out that "it was not my fault if Juventus were investigated, and lost two titles for financial irregularities and allegedly trying to bribe opposing players". OK. But maybe Zeman would be better served concentrating on Roma. One point from two home matches is not what was expected of him.
Looking for new tricks to upset visiting teams? You may want to consider what Paganese did in its Third Division home match against Catanzaro when it failed to clean the away team dressing room. This not-so-gentlemanly trick, however, worked only partially. The match ended in a goal-less draw and the club was fined nearly $4,000.
Stefano Colantuono will remember Atalanta's match in Catania, and not only for his team's disappointing performance. In Sicily, he celebrated his 400th match on the bench, quite an achievement for a man who, as a player, never achieved dizzy heights.
New entries in Hall of Fame
There are interesting new entries in the UEFA Hall of Fame, among them Paolo Maldini, Dino Zoff and Giovanni Trapattoni. Having had the pleasure of interviewing them all for SBS, I can only agree wholeheartedly with the choices. They were great players and coaches (Maldini is on his way) and their contribution to the world of football cannot be overestimated.
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