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HomePolitics‘A snake’: Agnelli’s cut-throat soccer politics cause uproar

‘A snake’: Agnelli’s cut-throat soccer politics cause uproar

A woman walks a dog near the Inter Milan headquarters in Milan, Italy, Monday, April 19, 2021. Inter, along with Juventus and Milan, are the three Italian clubs that entered as founding members in the European Super League. The Super League intends to launch a 20-team competition with 15 founding members but only 12 have currently signed up. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

A woman walks a dog near the Inter Milan headquarters in Milan, Italy, Monday, April 19, 2021. Inter, along with Juventus and Milan, are the three Italian clubs that entered as founding members in the European Super League. The Super League intends to launch a 20-team competition with 15 founding members but only 12 have currently signed up. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

AP

If the stylish and swashbuckling soccer romantic Giovanni Agnelli represented the epitome of club presidents a few generations ago, his nephew Andrea Agnelli’s affinity for the cut-throat business side of the sport falls more in line with the American and foreign owners who are gobbling up the European game.

Considered by many the mastermind behind the breakaway Super League that is dividing soccer, Andrea Agnelli is gaining a reputation for his boardroom backstabbing.

“A snake,” was the way an angry UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin labeled Agnelli on Monday. “I have never seen a person lie so many times and so persistently as he did.”

The breakaway announcement came a day before a UEFA executive committee meeting was to decide on revisions to the Champions League proposed by the European Club Association guided by Agnelli, who is also the Juventus president.

But Agnelli slithered away with 11 other clubs to announce the Super League and then resigned from the ECA.

“He is probably the biggest disappointment of all,” Čeferin added of Agnelli, whose young daughter he became godfather to.

As some European soccer insiders have put it, Agnelli represents the tougher, more calculating side of a family that made its fortune running Fiat Automobiles — now Stellantis following mergers with Chrysler and Peugeot.

He’s a far cry from the late Giovanni Agnelli, who used to wake up his Juventus players with friendly phone calls at the crack of dawn — just to see how they were doing.

If anything, Andrea is more like his sterner father, Umberto Agnelli, another former Juventus chairman.

But toughness was just what Juventus needed when Andrea Agnelli was named club president 11 years ago when he was only 34.

It seems like a distant memory now, with Juventus having won the Italian league a record nine straight times, but Juventus was in disarray when Andrea Agnelli took over. The team was still struggling to recover from the match-fixing and refereeing scandal…

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