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FOOTBALL

Football: Struggling AC Milan sack coach Vincenzo Montella

Fallen Italian giants AC Milan named combative former player Gennaro Gattuso as their new boss on Monday after sacking Vincenzo Montella, the Chinese-owned club said on Monday.

Football: Struggling AC Milan sack coach Vincenzo Montella
AC Milan's former coach, Vincenzo Montella. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

The seven-time European champions released Montella after a goalless draw against Torino on Sunday left them seventh in Serie A and have turned to 39-year-old Gattuso, a member of one of their most successful sides but a man with little coaching pedigree.

Gattuso made more than 450 appearances for AC Milan between 1999 and 2012, winning a reputation as a rugged defensive midfielder, and he lifted the 2006 World Cup with Italy.

He spent a season at Glasgow Rangers before joining AC Milan.

Since retiring as a player has been working within the AC Milan structure as youth team coach after a stuttering coaching career elsewhere, with short stints at Sion in Switzerland, at Palermo and Pisa in Italy and at Greek minnows OFI Crete.

AC Milan have not finished higher than sixth in any of the last four seasons in Serie A but new Chinese owner Li Yonghong funded a €230 million signing spree in the summer.

Leonardo Bonucci arrived from Juventus for €38 million in an eye-catching move, while Portuguese player Andre Silva came for a similar sum from FC Porto and Hakan Calhanoglu was acquired from Bayer Leverkusen.

But even with those reinforcements, Montella failed to put the club that was once the jewel in former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's business empire in contention for a Champions League place. He leaves after 17 months at the San Siro.

There will be heavy pressure on Gattuso, who was a key cog in a team featuring Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo and Filippo Inzaghi which won the 2003 Champions League by beating Juventus on penalties.

He was on the losing side in the dramatic 2005 final in Istanbul when AC Milan blew a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Liverpool and then lost in the penalty shootout, but got his revenge two years later when Milan beat Liverpool in Athens.

He also helped Milan win two Serie A titles and made 72 international appearances for Italy.


Gennaro Gattuso in 2012. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

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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