Sampdoria fears relegation in sinister situation
Much grimmer Francis Ford Coppola, the director of The Godfather films, could not have imagined it. On the sidewalk in front of the headquarters of Italian soccer club Sampdoria, which tonight lost for the seventeenth time in Serie A, Saturday morning found a cardboard box containing a severed pig’s head.
The box also contained a threatening letter. “Massimo Ferrero, Antonio Romeo, next time it will be your heads.” Addressed to the former owner and current vice president of the Genoa-based club.
Back in January, Sampdoria received a bullet letter containing a blank. That package also contained a written message, that the next bullet would be a real one.
The soccer club, which said it is “deeply outraged by yet another serious act of intimidation,” is investigating with Italian police for possible perpetrators. The threats probably stem from dissatisfaction with Sampdoria’s sporting, but also certainly financial, situation.
The eccentric Ferrero stepped down as president of the club in 2021 after being arrested on suspicion of financial crimes the 71-year-old Roman allegedly committed in business. Escapades that had nothing to do with the soccer club, but Sampdoria was immediately without a president.
The search for a new owner has been difficult, to say the least, as the Ferrero family does still have financial control of the club.
According to Sampdoria’s former president, Edoardo Garrone, Ferrero is refusing bids for a takeover that would save the club from bankruptcy. These included a bid from a group of investors led by the now deceased Italian soccer star Gianluca Vialli and one from American investors.
Ferrero was in the stands Monday night in his hometown of Rome against Lazio to watch his “old” club, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Not without risk, as just last fall Ferrero was escorted out of the stadium under police escort when enraged Sampdoria fans realized Ferrero was in the stands.
Fans hold Ferrero, the man with somewhat penurious charisma, responsible for the club’s malaise. The debt has grown to over one hundred million euros. According to the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, Sampdoria has yet to transfer 11 million euros in salaries to players and the technical staff before May 16.
Points deduction threatens if the Genoa club does not transfer the unpaid salaries by that date. Recently, the club already avoided points deduction because October and November salaries were transferred just in time.
Earlier this year, Juventus already received a 15-point deduction and some board members were suspended because the club tampered with player transfer values.
Points deduction is the last thing the Genoa club can use. Financially the situation is murky, athletically things are just as bad. Sampdoria is penultimate in the Italian Serie A with 11 points, nine points behind a spot that allows it to avoid relegation.
In Monday night’s league match against Lazio, Sampdoria fared well for a long time. Until ten minutes before time.
With a hefty peg, Lazio midfielder Luis Alberto pushed Sampdoria’s nose, where Dutchmen Bram Nuytinck and Sam Lammers played the whole match, even deeper into the mud. Gasping for tens of millions, for the club’s survival.