Europe news

Cagliari in row with IFF and Roma

September 24, 2012
By Adam Digby, Italy Correspondent

Cagliari have become embroiled in a bitter war of words with the Italian Football Federation and Roma after the fixture between the two clubs was cancelled and Roma were given a 3-0 win.

Italian Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete
GettyImagesAbete has held the post since 2007

Roma were awarded the three points for Sunday's Serie A clash in accordance with league rules after the match was originally set to be played behind closed doors due to safety concerns around the suitability of the Is Arenas - only for the Cagliary president, Massimo Cellino, to invite supporters to attend after describing the ground as "perfectly adequate".

The move sparked a furious response from IFF President Giancarlo Abete, who sent a strong message to the outspoken Cagliari chief.

"Cellino's behaviour is unacceptable and even damages the image of Italian football abroad," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "This whole affair started off almost as a joke, with Cellino saying he had four stadiums to choose from this summer, but then we ended up like this.

"It is incredible, unacceptable and disconcerting. Cellino represents the Lega in the Federal counsel, so he is to be considered one of the most representative figures in Serie A - but that requires a sense of responsibility, too.

"Instead, this was an open challenge to the authorities in charge of public safety. All of this will certainly be punished, but the Lega [Calcio] has to learn from it and try to improve the behaviour of its directors."

His words were backed by Lega Calcio chief Maurizio Beretta, who revealed how the league had worked with Cagliari to find a suitable solution.

"Throughout the week, we worked with the Sardinian club to solve the problem of their new stadium still being under construction," he told La Repubblica.

"The match against Roma was to be held in Trieste, but our general manager [Marco] Brunelli worked all week with them and the local government to find a solution and not force Cagliari to have to play on neutral ground.

"Finally, one was found - play the game at Is Arenas but behind closed doors for security reasons. The Prefect accepted this solution and Cagliari seemed to agree. Then came that absurd statement."

Cellino, however, told ANSA: "I invited the fans to come to the stadium to avoid chaos. I wanted to avoid a situation where only the ultras turned up and created the idea season ticket holders could also get in.

Responding to Abete's statement, he said: "Dear Abete, I am not the shame of football. In 21 years, I have never been deferred to the Disciplinary Commission over fake passports, referees, doping or false accounting. For others, however, the facts speak for themselves."

The argument continued on Monday, with Cagliari releasing an official statement via the club's website attacking Franco Baldini after the Roma general manager demanded that the Giallorossi be handed a victory as per league rules.

The statement read: "Cagliari understand the principles of Mr Baldini while not agreeing with them. That's because he is trying to take advantage of someone else's misfortune. If that was the case, a man of such principles would be like a vulture.

"Despite Baldini's stance, we know that he doesn't represent the sporting spirit of all Romans, who we remain close friends of."