Tuesday Kickoff: Italy hands out scandal bans, Herdling leaves Union and more

Tuesday Kickoff: Italy hands out scandal bans, Herdling leaves Union and more

MLS- Philadelphia Union

Tuesday Kickoff: Italy hands out scandal bans, Herdling leaves Union and more

PescadaSampdoria (Getty Images)

Italian soccer won't be suspended as a whole for two years, like Italian Premier Mario Monti suggested, and the sport as a whole in the country appears ready to move on from the latest match-fixing scandal.

The Italian FA announced its punishments after an investigation, and four players — Mario Cassano, Alessandro Zamperini, Luigi Sartor and Nicola Santoni — were banned for five years each. On the team level, a handful of clubs were either handed point deductions or fines ahead of the upcoming season. A pair of third-tier clubs were hit with the biggest deductions, with Albinoleffe starting at a 15-point disadvantage, and Piacenza getting hit with an 11-point deduction.

In terms of the Serie A teams involved, Sampdoria and Siena were each fined, while newly promoted Pescara will start the season in a two-point hole. Novara, which was relegated to Serie B, will begin its attempt to climb back to the top flight with a four-point deduction.

Here are a few more stories to get your day going:

HERDLING LEAVES UNION

Kai Herdling's brief time with the Philadelphia Union has come to an end.

The on-loan Hoffenheim attacker has returned to the Bundesliga club two weeks earlier than initially planned, with the club's preseason preparations beginning. Herdling, who played in three MLS matches, was only on loan until June 30. In his month with the club, Herdling did not score or assist on any goals except for tallying in a friendly with the Harrisburg City Islanders last week.

NEWCASTLE BID FOR DE JONG

Count Newcastle among the teams hoping to lure FC Twente and 21-year-old Dutch striker Luuk De Jong. According to Sky Sports, the Magpies have submitted a bid of £8 million for De Jong, who did not play in Euro 2012 but was the second-leading scorer in the Eredivisie this past season with 25 goals.

Newcastle was reportedly hoping to bring in De Jong during the winter transfer window but opted for Papiss Cisse instead, a move that paid immediate dividends. With Demba Ba potentially heading elsewhere this summer, the club has returned to De Jong as a front-line option.

De Jong is reportedly being targeted by clubs across Europe including Liverpool, Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

READING IN FOR POGREBNYAK

If and when Clint Dempsey leaves Fulham, he will be far from the first attacking player to bolt the club. After Andrew Johnson signed with QPR on Monday, reports suggest that recently promoted Reading is making a play for Pavel Pogrebnyak and is close to signing the Russian forward to a four-year deal.

Pogrebnyak joined Fulham during the winter transfer window and made an immediate impact, scoring six goals in 12 games.

BONUCCI OFFERS BALOTELLI EXPLANATION

Mario Balotelli scored one of the goals of Euro 2012 on Monday, which his over-the-shoulder volley finishing off Ireland and helping punch the Azzurri's ticket to the quarterfinals. Before Baloteli could say anything after the goal, Leonardo Bonucci came over and place his hand over Balotelli's mouth, and the Italian defender offered his explanation as to why he did that.

"What he said [when he scored], he said in English and I didn't understand," Bonucci said. "So I put my hand in front of his mouth just in case, because Mario is instinctive but that is also his strength."

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What do you make of the punishments in Italy? Think Herdling's loan to the Union was a waste of time? What do you think of a potential Cisse-De Jong front line at Newcastle? Is Fulham in trouble if it loses Johnson, Pogrebnyak and Dempsey? Think Bonucci made the play of the tournament by preventing Balotelli from saying anything potentially harmful?

Share your thoughts below. 

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