Serie A club too broke to pay stadium stewards

Parma captain Alessandro Lucarelli hit out at league and federation officials on Sunday as the beleaguered Serie A club's game with Udinese was postponed due to a lack of funds to pay stadium stewards.

Serie A club too broke to pay stadium stewards
Parma sit bottom of the Italian top flight but almost certain demotion to Serie B looks to be the least of their worries. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Parma sit bottom of the Italian top flight but almost certain demotion to Serie B looks to be the least of their worries.

After months of players going without wages and seeing the club change hands twice, there is now talk of bankruptcy-threatened Parma being unable to see out the remainder of the league season.

The Italian Football Players Association (Assocalciatori) and Italian Football Federation (FIGC) are involved in holding talks with Parma in a bid to save the club, while a social media campaign by players, ex-players and fans has been launched on Twitter with the #SaveParma hashtag.

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Lucarelli claimed in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport on Sunday the problems started "two years ago" when the club – then under the ownership of Tommaso Ghirardi – began paying players' wages on deadline day. "That's when we got suspicious," he said.   

But he also hit out at league and federation officials for "allowing" Parma to get in such dire straits. "Most of the fault lies with Ghirardi, but the (Serie A) League and the football federation (FIGC) should not have allowed this to happen. Now, all they're trying to do is salvage the league championship," he added.

Ghirardi sold Parma prior to Christmas to an Albanian businessman although the deal lasted barely two months before it was sold on to Giampietro Manenti.

Manenti has been struggling to keep the club on its feet in recent weeks and the FIGC and Serie A league officials, according to reports, are in talks to loan the club €5 million so they can see out the remainder of the season.    

Lucarelli added that Manenti "came to us with big promises, but so far we haven't seen a euro". The plan would see Parma go into 'controlled administration' and allow them to start afresh from Serie B.

If Parma are unable to finish the current campaign, league bosses are expected to rule that all previous results would stand and that any future fixtures would automatically end 3-0 to their opponents.

Lucarelli said the players had stopped short of taking the club to court over unpaid wages because the measure could ultimately hit the "200 families who work for Parma".

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Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.