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Dr Jekyll and Mr. Lotito: La Salernitana's nightmare

The best had to be the food between directives on game day. Claudio Lotito, president of Lazio, called Claudio Lotito, owner of La Salernitana. They discussed the meeting, joked, met in one of their favorite restaurants in Rome, near the Olympic stadium, and had a good time remembering anecdotes with the coffees and a good grappa. Later, Lotito de la Lazio, as host of the match, took out his wallet, paid the bill and accompanied Lotito de la Salernitana to the box to see how his team lost 3-0. All a win-win , as they say now. But the occurrence of being the owner of two teams that play in Serie A has been about to cost Salernitana the relegation on January 1 and a morrocotudo mess in the championship. But, above all, the umpteenth mockery of a hobby because of another clumsiness in the offices.

The Campania team, which had returned to the top category this year after 23 years and is today the last classified in Serie A, has been only two minutes away from losing the category. The Italian Football Federation warned Claudio Lotito at the beginning of the season – from Lazio and from Salernitana – that he would not admit that societal schizophrenia in which he had embarked. He could not be the owner of two competing clubs due to an obvious conflict of interest. Especially seen from the other teams, who would never be sure of the result arising from those fratricidal crosses.

So Lotito, the Salernitana, made a trade in summer to cede the club to a company owned by his son, Enrico Lotito, and his brother-in-law, Marco Mezzaroma, who acts as administrator. But it did not slip. And with the water up to his neck, on the 31st, at 11:58 p.m., the Federation accepted the proposal of businessman Danilo Iervolino, founder of a distance university, to take over one of the clubs with the most history and a most devoted hobby. He will pay 10 million euros in cash and must inject another 20 into the club's coffers. The story is not over and has been challenged in court by another of the bidders – a fund that offered more money – and the purchase must be formalized in 45 days.

Salerno, 40 miles south of Naples, is a port city nestled on the rugged Amalfi Coast. The devotion to a team that has suffered all kinds of vicissitudes since its founding in 1919 has overcome all the dramas of the team, which came to grief in bankruptcy limbo. The Stadio Arechi (with a capacity for 38,000 spectators) is the third largest in the current championship and the club has built its history on a persistent commitment to the quarry. But the Salernitana, who this year had signed Frank Ribéry – they also tried it with defender David Luiz – has been about to become a kind of uncomfortable memory in the middle of the season. Especially in the classification, where all his points (he has only achieved eight) and those of those who defeated him (14 different teams) were going to evaporate. The height of the bungling indicated that, if it descended, those who lost against them would be the most benefited by not seeing their results altered.

The patience of the stands sometimes seems infinite. In 2012, when the team had disappeared due to a new bankruptcy, a banner appeared in the stadium: “Since you're gone, Sundays no longer exist.” The phrase was from a song by the Bolognese singer-songwriter Cesare Cremonini. He was talking about a broken love, of course. But also of the unconditional devotion of a hobby betrayed again in the offices of some businessman with a scarf around his neck. Of an increasingly widespread state of mind in football.

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