In another series of ‘firsts,’ Inter Miami CF held its historical first training session yesterday at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. A new season had begun. The very first one, and one which for fans must have seemed like a day they never thought would arrive.
This came 1811 days after February 5, 2014, the day that David Beckham announced to the crowd gathered at the Pérez Art Museum that he would bring an MLS franchise to Miami.
Or 4 years, 11 months, 16 days. Or 59 months, 16 days, including the end date. In other words, a fairly long time.
But now the eternal wait is over; the doubters, the haters and the NIMBY’s silenced. Find out how this historical day went by clicking the link here:
The Miami FC, newcomers to the USL Championship, used the New Year Holiday to announce their first signing of the year, Jamaican international forward Romario Williams. He has been signed for the 2020 season which begins in March.
Romario, who is named after the legendary Brazilian player, has thrived in USL, though this is the first time he has signed directly with a USL Championship side. His other appearances in the league had been on-loan. Overall, Williams, 25 has played for the Montreal Impact, FC Montreal, Atlanta United, Charleston Battery and Columbus Crew SC.
“After meeting Romario and his family, we are convinced that his is not only an outstanding player, but an outstanding person who will be an asset on and off the field,” Miami FC president Paul Dalglish said in a statement. “He is a ruthless goal scorer and he shares our motivation to challenge from day one in the USL Championship.”
Williams first went to MLS as the third overall selection by the Montreal Impact in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. He was placed on Montreal’s second team, FC Montreal, where he played seven games in the league. He spent most of the 2016 season on-loan with the USL Championship’s Charleston Battery, where he scored 10 goals in 30 games.
In 2017, he was traded to MLS expansion side Atlanta United, where he spent most of the season on-loan again with the Battery. Williams had a great season in the USL, scoring 15 goals and three assists in 24 games, finishing fourth in the Golden Boot race.
Williams played in MLS in 2018, appearing in 19 matches for Atlanta United, scoring two goals and adding two assists. (The Five Stripes would go on to win MLS Cup that season.) Williams also appeared in seven games with the club’s USL affiliate, ATL UTD 2, scoring four times.
In 2019, Williams was traded mid-season from Atlanta to the Columbus Crew. Across all competitions for three clubs, he netted five goals in 16 appearances.
“I am elated to be joining The Miami FC,” Williams said in a statement. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this incredible organization and excited for the upcoming season.”
Williams also has 14 caps for the Jamaican senior national team and has scored twice for the Reggae Boyz. He has also represented Jamaica at the U17 and U23 levels. More information on Romario Williams is available on Transfermarkt.com.
“This signing demonstrates our ambition to bring the best talent to the USL and give our fans great entertainment in the heart of Miami,” added Dalglish.
Romario brings experience and a eye for the goal to the Miami FC attack and should be one of the key players in the coming season.
Gennaro Gattuso was on the list of possible head coaches for Inter Miami CF. On Tuesday night, he was installed as the new manager at Napoli, a few hours after the club said arrivederci to Carlo Ancelotti.
Gattuso’s contract is heavy on incentives. According to information obtained by the Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport, Gattuso will earn 750,000 € from now until June, 2020. His contract can be lengthened for two more years if Napoli finishes in the top four spots in Serie A and thereby qualifies for the Champions League next season. Under such an extension, Gattuso’s salary will increase to 1.5 million € per year. Further incentives could raise that total to 2 million € per year.
When asked about Carlo Ancelotti, who had coached Gattuso while he was at AC Milan, he said “Ancelotti is like a father to me. In all these years he has always been close to me, helping me in all situations. He has won everything and I still have much to show. The objective is to climb positions and arrive in a position which puts us in the Champions League. We must work well, recover points and exit from this delicate situation.”
Gennaro Gattuso estaba en la lista de posibles directores técnicos para el Inter de Miami. El martes por la noche fue confirmado como nuevo técnico del Napolés. El contrato también se ha hecho público. Según informa la Gazzetta dello Sport, Gennaro cobrará 750.000 euros de aquí a junio, un contrato que se alargaría por otras dos temporadas si el equipo termina entre los cuatro primeros y se clasifica para la próxima Champions. Si eso ocurre, Gattuso pasaría a cobrar 1,5 milliones por año, cantidad que se podría elevar hasta los 2 millones si se cumplen unos bonus pactados.
Lo que dijó Gattuso sobre Carlo Ancelotti: “Ancelotti es un padre para mí. En todos estos años siempre ha estado cerca de mí ayudándome en todas las situaciones. Ganó todo y yo todavía tengo mucho que demostrar. El objetivo es remontar posiciones y llegar a las posiciones de Champions. Debemos trabajar bien, recuperar puntos y salir de este momento delicado”, confesó ‘Rino’.
Ecco come giocherà il Napoli. | Here is how Napoli will play under Gattuso.
As club struggles on the pitch, the chairman is embroiled in a dispute with players that has drawn the attention of the Italian and International Player Associations.
What is the limit of an owner’s authority over matters relating to players?
NAPOLI (December 10, 2019) —
Last week, Napoli chairman and owner Aurelio De Laurentiis told reporters he would sell his entire squad if given the chance, a sure sign the club’s civil war rumbles on. The chairman is reportedly considering cutting his losses and letting some of his best players leave in the winter transfer window.
De Laurentiis, 70, a prominent Italian film producer, has resurrected Napoli since buying them in 2004 after they had been declared bankrupt and relegated to Serie C (the Italian third division). The club basically had to start over again from scratch. The Partenopei have finished second in the race for the Scudetto, the Serie A title, three times in the last four seasons and have played entertaining football throughout that time.
However, he also has a tendency for making incendiary declarations, for falling out with his coaches, — for example Ancelotti’s predecessor Maurizio Sarri — and has a reputation for interfering with the coaching staff’s decisions and player selections. In short, a textbook lesson in what not to do when one owns a professional football club.
Last month, De Laurentiis ordered a seven-day training camp for the players, during which they would not be allowed to go home to their families. Known as a “ritiro,” in Italian, they are used by clubs as a form of punishment for poor performance, and players view them as both demeaning and outdated. The ritiro was organised following Napoli’s defeat to Roma in Serie A on November 2. The players rebelled after the club’s 1-1 draw with Salzburg in the Champions League on the following Tuesday (November 5), going home rather than to the Castel Volturno training facility. De Laurentiis considered it an act of mutiny.
This led to a furious stand-off between the playing staff and De Laurentiis. The club responded to the players’ absence from the retreat with a strongly-worded statement about protecting its rights which implied it would fine the players or even take legal action against them. Napoli’s vice-president, who just happens to be the owner’s son, Edo De Laurentiis, also took a swipe at the squad, claiming they lacked ‘balls’, and called for more ‘honour’ to be given to the ‘shirt and the city’. The fans are angry are both sides and protested in front of the Stadio San Paulo. Things are not harmonious in Napoli.
Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti came close to being fired by De Laurentiis (see update below). He denied his squad have turned against him after the club’s winless streak extended to eight matches with a 2-1 defeat to Bologna at home. “I have an excellent relationship with the squad,” Ancelotti told reporters. “No one has ever failed to respect me. I don’t see any friction between the players and us.” That winless streak now stands at nine as Napoli drew 1-1 over the weekend away at Udine.
The pressure continues to mount on Ancelotti as the Partenopei languish seventh in Serie A, 17 points behind leaders Inter and eight adrift of the Champions League places.
“We are all united, we are all suffering in this delicate moment and we all want to resolve these issues together,” Ancelotti said.
Napoli’s results on the pitch reflect the continued internal problems. De Laurentiis went ahead with his threats and imposed fines on the players who refused to report to the training retreat he unilaterally imposed on the players. De Laurentiis fined them up to 50% of their October salaries, with captain Lorenzo Insigne reportedly ordered to pay the most at 350,000 Euros (nearly $400,000), followed by Brazilian defensive midfielder Allan at 150,000 Euros ($165,000). The fines could total 2.5 million Euros ($2.7 million).
The players have also been barred from speaking to the press, with Ancelotti only talking to the media prior to the Champions’ League game against Liverpool because not doing so would have broken UEFA rules. After the earlier Champions League draw with Salzburg, Ancelotti skipped his media duties.
Pressure is mounting on the club externally as well. The Italian Players Association ( l’associazione italiana calciatori, “AIC”) is looking into the situation. Carlo Ancelotti has stated publicly that he was not in agreement with the training camp, and as a result AIC president Damiano Tomassi said “it needs to be understood if and how the request for the training camp was formalized.” Tommasi says “the Napoli situation is a strange one and very unusual.” He added, “We talked about it with the team and put ourselves at the disposal of the Napoli players who will ask for our consultation.”
Napoli’s decision to fine its players for abandoning the in-season training camp ordered by the club owner is also being contested by FIFPro, the Amsterdam-based world players union.
FIFPro released a statement November 30, 2019, outlining its position:
FIFPro said the fines contradicted provisions in Italy’s collective bargaining agreement. “The players of Napoli cannot be subjected to arbitrary decisions of a disenchanted club when the result of a match is unsatisfactory,” FIFPro said.
“Technical matters are not the responsibility of club directors and we support (coach Carlo) Ancelotti and the players of Napoli for their united stand in clearly difficult times,” it said.
The AIC‘s mission is to protect, improve and negotiate the conditions, rights and status of all professional players by collective bargaining agreements. The Accordo Collettivo, or Collective Bargaining Agreement (the “AC”) at issue here is between the FIGC (Federazione Italiana Gioco Calcio, the Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A and the AIC.
Clause 10 (Technical Instructions, Obligations and Rules of Behaviour) of the AC appears to place issues such as training within the sporting side of the club. The section states:
10.1. The Player must perform the sporting services within the organisation provided by the Club and in compliance with the technical instructions and other rules laid down for attainment of the competitive objectives.
The above clause, while likely open for interpretation, seems to uphold the argument if FIFPro that training falls under the authority of a club’s technical staff and not ownership or the commercial side of a club. Clause 10 goes on to state:
10.4. The rules pertaining to the Player’s private life are lawful and binding, following acceptance of same by the Player, acceptance which shall not be unreasonably withheld, only where justified by needs of the professional activities to be performed, without prejudice in any event to respect for human dignity.
The AC also has a clause dealing with a player’s contractual rights to a weekly rest day and vacation. (Clause 18). In addition to allowing players four weeks of continuous vacation each year, this section provides:
18.1. The Player is entitled to one rest day every week, normally in the first two days of the week.
At present, it is unclear if the AIC and/or FIFPro will be successful in having the fines overturned and the players paid in accordance with their contracts. The matter could be subject to arbitration if a formal complaint is made by the AIC. Beyond the issue of the authority of a club owner to order the players to a training retreat, it would be hard to argue that such a measure deprived the players of “human dignity.” A request by Russo Soccer for further comment from FIFPro is still pending as of the time of publishing. Further updates on this story will be provided as news becomes available.
EDITOR’S UPDATE: As this article was being finalised, Carlo Anceolotti was fired Tuesday evening, despite Napoli winning their final Champions League group stage match 4-0 over Genk and qualifying for the knockout stage of the competition. He is now a favourite to assume the managerial duties at Everton or Arsenal in the Premier League. Gennaro Gattuso, who was a candidate for the Inter Miami CF manager’s job, will take over at Napoli.
More than 1,800 soccer business insiders from 80 countries, including myself, will assemble at the Turnberry Resort in Aventura on Thursday and Friday for the SoccerEx USA 2019 Conference. The conference includes 90 speakers, including Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, Inter Miami co-owner Jorge Mas, CONCACAF general secretary Philippe Moggio, and Amanda Duffy, the president of the National Women’s Soccer League.
Soccer executives from clubs, leagues, federations, media rightsholders and suppliers will hold a series of panels which discuss topics affecting the sport: from the evolution of the sport to branding to stadium innovations to youth soccer to the growth of the women’s game. Major sponsors include Concacaf, MLS, and LaLiga.
This is the second year the conference has been to Miami. It is owned by GAPC Sports, which is involved in many soccer ventures. Its chairman, Joseph DaGrosa, who lives in Miami, purchased French Ligue 1 club Girondins de Bordeaux last year. DaGrosa has had preliminary talks with Mas about a friendly match between Inter Miami and Bordeaux.
One of the panels will feature Alexi Lalas, the Fox analyst and former U.S. national team star. He is a moderator at the conference, and will have a conversation with Don Garber, in which the state of MLS and the future of the league is discussed.
“I can’t believe we’re in the 25th year,” Lalas said of MLS. “With the perspective of what Don has done and what I saw when I was there at the start, we want to give a breadth of perspective to folks, especially from a business perspective because there’s this curiosity globally about what MLS is doing and what MLS has done and an understanding of how they’ve planned it.”
“I also will ask Don about his plan going forward for what he wants MLS to be, the South American aspect, the relevancy globally, the branding of the teams; and you can’t talk to the commissioner without talking about expansion.”
Lalas Talks Inter Miami
Lalas has been watching the Inter Miami launch closely and likes what he sees.
“It’s been a hell of a saga, to say the least, all the twists and turns,” Lalas said. “We’re right back in Fort Lauderdale for now. But ultimately, if there is that pot of gold at the end that is a Miami stadium, I think it’s going to be good. They’ve surrounded themselves with good quality people who understand the unique aspects both of MLS in 2020 and what that is and isn’t, and on the ground in Miami what needs to be done and working through all the stuff.”
Lalas said it is critical for Inter Miami to make a big splash immediately on and off the field.
“I remain bullish in that I envision Miami being a lot more like an Atlanta as opposed to a Cincinnati at the start,” Lalas said. “Because of what Miami represents, they can’t afford the perception of a soft launch in the way that other teams have done. Miami has to hit the ground running. It’s difficult without that stadium there, but they have to show the ambition that matches what that perception is of Miami, international and cosmopolitan and first class.
“When we all show up for that first game and experience, we need to leave there saying, ‘Jesus, if this is what they’ve got in a temporary site, think of what they can do in a permanent site.’ It’s a first impression, and they only get one chance to do that.”
Today marks the beginning of the MLS offseason player movement calendar.
The action will start with a 55-hour window starting at 1 pm ET today in which teams may sign and trade players.
Other important dates include the MLS Expansion Draft on Nov. 19, which you will be able to watch on MLSsoccer.com and the MLS mobile app,
Also, the deadline for clubs to exercise options that are contained in some players’ contracts is on November 21.
For players who qualify, the opening of free agency is on November 25.
You can read more about the rules and procedures surrounding the various drafts, the criteria for qualification and the processes for player movement at the Russo Law and Soccer website. Links are below:
The complete offseason calendar is outlined below:
Nov. 11, 1:00 PM ET
Trade Window Opens Following a 10-week roster freeze, MLS clubs may sign and trade players.
Nov. 13, 8:00 PM ET
Trade Window Closes and Blackout Period Begins Blackout Period begins whereby clubs may no longer sign and/or trade players until conclusion of 2019 Expansion Draft.
Club Deadline to submit Bona Fide Offers MLS clubs notify the League Office in writing of players who have been extended a bona fide offer.
Nov. 19, 5:00 PM ET
2019 MLS Expansion Draft Watch live in the MLS app or on MLSsoccer.com. Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC may select up to five players each from the eligible player list. The list of players eligible for selection in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft will be released on Nov. 16 at 10:00 AM ET:
Club Deadline to Exercise Options MLS clubs notify the League Office in writing of players whose options they are exercising.
Nov. 25, 3:00 PM ET
End-of-Year Waivers The End-of-Year Waivers process is conducted in reverse order of 2019 season finish, taking into account postseason performance. Per the Expansion Priority Draft, Nashville SC will have the 25th pick and Inter Miami CF will have the final selection in each round.
Eligible for selection are players who do not meet the minimum requirements for Re-Entry Process or Free Agency. The list of players eligible for the End-of-Year Waivers will be released on Nov. 22: End-Of-Year Waivers Rules And Procedures
Nov. 25, 3:00 PM ET
Free Agency Opens Clubs may engage with players, other than their own, that are eligible for Free Agency. Free Agency eligible players are out-of-contract and option-declined players who are at least 28 years old and who have completed a minimum of eight service years. The complete list of Free Agents will be released on Nov. 22.
Nov. 26, 3:00 PM ET
2019 MLS Re-Entry Process – Stage 1 The Re-Entry Process, Stage 2 is conducted in the same format as Stage 1 and consists of MLS players who were not selected in the Stage 1. Not all unselected Stage 1 players will be available for selection as players may re-sign with their previous club between stages or may opt out of the process.
2019 MLS Re-Entry Process – Stage 2 The Re-Entry Process is conducted in reverse order of 2019 season finish, taking into account postseason performance. Per the Expansion Priority Draft, Nashville SC will have the 25th pick and Inter Miami CF will have the final selection in each round.
Former Arsenal Manager Arsène Wenger’s Discusses Barça After 0-0 Draw in Champions League.
MIAMI, Fla. (November 7, 2019) —
Arsène Wenger analysed Barcelona for BeIN Sports for the midweek UEFA Champions League match versus Slavia Prague. He maintains that Barça play like a “team in crisis.”
The reigning La Liga champions were stunned on Tuesday night after they were unable to break the deadlock against Slavia Prague and were held to a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou.
“They’re top of the league, they’re top of their group and they play like a team in crisis,” the legendary former Arsenal boss said on beIN Sports.
“Their game is too slow. There is no dynamic in the last 30 meters, it’s too individual.
“And every time they lose the ball, it looks like they will concede a goal on [the] counterattack because they cannot deal with pace against the opponent… the team lacks dynamic, lacks energy, lacks confidence.”
It was the first time since 2012 that Barcelona captain Lionel Messi failed to score in a home Champions League group game. He came close, striking the bar in a superb solo effort.
Wenger agrees with my own opinion that Barcelona are far too reliant on the Argentine superstar. He echoed that in discussing the Culés’ failure to make the breakthrough against Slavia Prague.
“Barcelona is an interesting case because they have a history of fantastic collective play, and on top of that, came Messi to make differences,” the 70-year-old explained.
“Today, it looks like they play and they wait for Messi to do something, but the basic strengths of the team play is a bit gone. And you think, when will Messi get the ball to do something?”
“And before, the music, the basic music, was the fantastic team play, making it difficult to catch the ball, and then on top of that came Messi.
“Today, it looks to me that they lost charisma.”
Wenger continued his brutal assessment of Barca’s performance with a stat comparison for ‘distance covered’ in the match.
Barcelona managed to cover 97 km in comparison to Slavia Prague’s 109 km, with the Frenchman saying it was the equivalent of 84 box-to-box runs.
He added: “Barcelona was beaten tonight really, physically, and then, not enough pace.”
While critical of Barça manager Ernesto Valverde, he was careful not to blame him entirely. “At the end, it’s always the coach who is guilty, he’s not always responsible,” he said. “There’s a difference between being guilty and responsible, you know?”
“As we said, Valverde does not make the decision on who comes in. He has to do the best with what he has.”
“So, what we speak about raises many questions: who has the final word when you buy a player? Secondly, is this really the player that the team needs?”