Roma’s Balzaretti retires over groin injury

Italian international fullback Federico Balzaretti announced on Wednesday he was retiring due to a long-standing groin injury.

Roma's Balzaretti retires over groin injury
Italian international fullback Federico Balzaretti announced on Wednesday. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The injury kept the Roma defender off the field for a year and a half.

“It was a difficult decision to take but I can't continue playing if I'm not at 100 percent,” said the 33-year-old.

Blazaretti, who played 16 times for Italy, including at Euro 2012, will join Roma's coaching staff.

Having recovered from his injury, he managed to play Roma's final match last season, enjoying 90 minutes against his former club Palermo.

“Having been able to play those last 90 minutes with Roma was a dream for me and I thank them for everything they allowed me to do,” said Balzaretti.

He began his career with home-town club Torino before also going on to play for Juventus and Fiorentina before making his mark at Palermo.

He won Serie B with Juventus in 2007 but had several near-misses with Roma, finishing runners-up in the league the last two seasons and also finishing as losing finalists in the Italian Cup in 2013.

But it was his form for Palermo from 2008-2012 that caught the eye of the national selectors and allowed him to establish himself, briefly, as an Italy regular.

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Italy makes move to clear out ‘illegal’ Roma camps

Italy's anti-immigrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini ordered a report Tuesday on the country's Roma population, with a view to shuttering overcrowded, "illegal" camps, provoking an angry response from rights campaigners.

Italy makes move to clear out 'illegal' Roma camps
Illustration photo: AFP

The head of the far-right League ordered the country's regional prefects to draw up “a report on the presence of Roma, Sinti and Caminanti” within two weeks, the interior ministry said in a statement.

“The aim is to verify the presence of illegal camps to draw up an eviction plan,” it said.

The Roma, Sinti and Caminanti are traditionally nomadic ethnic groups who have lived in Europe for centuries.

The Sinti are traditionally from west and central Europe, while Roma have their origins in the east and southeast of the continent. The Caminanti are believed to have their origins in the Norman occupation of Sicily.

The pro-Roma group Associazione 21 Luglio said Tuesday it was “deeply worried” by Salvini's order.

It slammed “a measure which clearly discriminates against these communities, since it does not affect, for example, formal or informal settlements inhabited by persons not belonging to these ethnic groups”.

Some 25,000 Roma, Sinti and Caminanti live in conditions of “housing segregation”, according to the association, accusing the government of maintaining “ethnic ghettos”.

About 15,000 members of the three groups reside in 127 formal settlements in Italy, often in the suburbs of large cities, according to the group.

The rest live instead in informal settlements, some of which are made up of just two to three families.

There are about 300 such informal settlements in Rome, the Associazione 21 Luglio told AFP.

Threats against the Roma and Sinti have increased under Salvini, who sparked controversy last year with his call for a new census of Roma, and for all non-Italians among them to be expelled from the country.

Salvini has also barred Italy's ports to charity vessels rescuing migrants at sea.

The Council of Europe estimates there are between 120,000 and 180,000 Roma, Sinti and Caminanti in Italy — one of the lowest concentrations in Europe.

Over half are Italian citizens with regular jobs and homes, but hate crimes against their less fortunate peers are rife.