By CARL SETTERLUND
If reports from the Italian newspaper Corriere di Bologna ring true, the Montreal Impact’s Joey Saputo is set to become the latest MLS owner to gain an ownership stake in a European club as well.
The Italian periodical says a deal worth roughly $23.5 million has been reached to pass over Serie B squad Bologna to a five-person investment group that includes Saputo.
Saputo has previously had several interactions with Bologna, acquiring three players from the team — most notably Marco Di Vaio — and the Impact have previously played Bologna in a friendly.
The century-old club has an up-and-down history, but has been in Serie A more often than not over the past two decades before their most recent relegation after the 2013-14 season.
Saputo would join the following list of MLS owners that also have a toe dipped into European waters: Stan Kroenke (Colorado Rapids/Arsenal), Erick Thohir (D.C. United/Inter Milan), City Football Group (New York City FC/Manchester City/Melbourne City FC/Yokohama F. Marinos), Red Bull GmbH (New York Red Bulls/Red Bull Salzburg/RB Leipzig), and AEG (LA Galaxy/Houston Dynamo/Hammarby IF).
Here are some other notes from around the soccer world:
FULHAM SACKS MANAGER
Felix Magath’s tenure in charge of Fulham was a quick one.
With Fulham still in an extended nose dive, owner Shad Khan — who also owns the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars — moved Thursday to sack Magath after just 19 matches.
Magath took over a tumultuous situation at Fulham this past February with only 12 games remaining in the English Premier League season. He was the club’s third manager of the 2013-14 season, and was unable to keep the London-based team from being relegated to the Football League Championship.
It was, however, probably this year’s result that spelled the German manager’s end, as Fulham are currently in position to be relegated again, having only picked up one point in seven matches.
The 61-year-old Magath came with a high pedigree, having previously led eight different Bundesliga clubs, including Bayern Munich, VfL Wolfsburg and Schalke 04 in the past decade.
“This is an unfortunate but necessary change,” Khan said in a statement on Fulham’s website. “I am doing what I feel is right and needed for Fulham Football Club, for today as well as tomorrow.
“I thank our supporters for standing by us during these most difficult of times on the pitch, and promise better days ahead.”
Welshman Kit Symons will serve as Fulham’s interim manager.
UKRAINE CALLS FOR BAN ON RUSSIAN MATCHES IN CRIMEA
The developing situation involving Russia’s occupation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea has now spilled over into the soccer world as well.
In a public letter to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini, the Football Federation of Ukraine released asking for a ban on Russian soccer matches in Crimea.
“The Football Federation of Ukraine didn’t give the consent for any club of the Crimea’s territory for an affiliation to the Football Union of Russia or for the participation in any competitions in the Russian Federation territory,” the statement reads.
A further except reads as follows:
Any the FUR (Russian Football Union) members with the intension to hold a match on the Crimea’s territory must receive the agreement from the FFU as the Crimea’s territory is the territory of Ukraine. The holding of any match with a participation of the FUR affiliating members on the Crimea’s territory is a flagrant breach of FIFA Statutes.
Consequently, the UEFA Emergency Council stressed its strong position as to this question taking the decision, that all matches played by football clubs from the Crimean Peninsula in the competitions under the FUR aegis, will be not recognized.
In spite of all bans and warnings of higher football authorities, the FUR has already affiliated in its membership some Crimean clubs and is conducting activities to affiliate some regional federations from the Crimea, decides this it carried on the Russian Football Championship and the Cup matches on the temporally occupied territory of Ukraine.
Such actions of Football Union of Russia cause the strict negative reaction of the FFU, they are testifying explicit ignoring the basic principles of the football family, the howling infringement of the FFU’s rights and FIFA and UEFA Statutes.
What effect will a new ownership group have on Bologna? How can Fulham turn around their season? What did you think of Ukraine’s open letter?
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