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Zenga faces sack over Dubai holiday

Sampdoria coach Walter Zenga is on the verge of being sacked after flying to Dubai for a holiday without telling the club, reports in Italy said on Monday.

Zenga faces sack over Dubai holiday
Under-fire manager Walter Zenga has angered the hierarchy at Sampdoria by taking an unannounced trip to Dubai. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Former Italian goalkeeper Zenga took over the reins at the start of the season looking to carry on the work of Sinisa Mihajlovic, who led Sampdoria to a seventh place finish and a potential Europa League place before moving to AC Milan.
   
Sampdoria's hopes of qualifying for Europe's second tier competition were ended by a 4-0 defeat at home to Vojvodina in preliminary round.

And after a promising start to life in Serie A, the Genoa-based club have dropped steadily down the table.

On Sunday, Fiorentina handed Sampdoria their fourth defeat of the season, and their first at home, to regain top spot in Italy with Zenga's men dropping to 10th place, 11 points adrift.

Some hardline supporters called on club president Massimo Ferrero to sack Zenga, claiming the former Inter Milan great – who made 58 appearances for Italy and came to be known as 'L'Uomo Ragno' (Spider Man) – isn't up to the job.
   
Some reports claim Ferrero will give Zenga until the away trip to Udinese in a fortnight, following the international break, before making any decision on the 55-year-old's future.
   
However, Sky Sport Italia claims Ferrero could act in a matter of hours, with former club coach Gigi Delneri reportedly in the frame.

According to the website of Gazzetta dello Sport, Ferrero attempted to call Zenga to his office on Monday to sack him only to discover the coach had decided to benefit from the break for international football to fly to Dubai for a short holiday.
   
The report said Zenga “could now be fired by email”.

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FOOTBALL

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.

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