The story appears on

Page A16

December 7, 2017

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Sports

Double celebration for Roma after nod for new stadium

Rarely has Roma achieved so much in a single day.

Hours after gaining approval to build a long-delayed new stadium, the Giallorossi won their UEFA Champions League group for the first time in nearly a decade.

Making matters even sweeter was that AS Roma was expected to struggle to reach the knockout stages. Instead, the team qualified for the last 16 ahead of English Premier League champion Chelsea and Atletico Madrid — a semifinalist or finalist in three of the past four seasons.

“Winning the group should be a great satisfaction but nothing more, because otherwise we’ll treat these situations as exceptional whereas we should be working toward making them the norm,” Roma general director Mauro Baldissoni said yesterday.

Memories of Roma getting routed 1-7 by both Manchester United and Bayern Munich over the past 10 years are fading under first-year coach Eusebio Di Francesco, a player on the Roma squad that won Serie A in 2001.

“We shouldn’t just settle for what we’ve already done,” Di Francesco said after a 1-0 win over Qarabag. “Aim to win the Champions League? Why not?

“We’ve gone through and are proud of this, but so often here people settle for less. But why should we?” Di Francesco added. “We should be ambitious. We suffered but won today and that is already a sign of a great team.”

Diego Perotti scored the only goal against the Azerbaijani club early in the second half but Roma had to wait until the other group match between Chelsea and Atletico ended 1-1 to be assured of winning the group.

The match in England still had a couple of more minutes to go after the final whistle in Rome. All of the Roma squad waited in front of their fans and, as soon as the big screen showed it was finished, there were huge cheers from players and supporters.

Roma’s American president, James Pallotta, already had reason to celebrate an hour before the match began.

That was when the four main governing bodies involved in the decision approved the club’s plans to build Stadio della Roma. “I’m delighted because I know what this decision could mean for Rome itself, for our club’s future and for our fans — we want to give them the home they deserve,” Pallotta said.

Pallotta first presented the stadium plan in March 2014 alongside then-mayor Ignazio Marino, saying that it would be ready for the 2016-17 season. But the massive project — due to include a training center, entertainment complex, three office towers and extensive transportation works — had been delayed by environmental concerns and criticism over public funding.

After much delay, finally, the city, the greater municipal area, the Lazio region and the government gave the key go-ahead on Tuesday.

Roma currently shares the 72,000-seat Stadio Olimpico with Lazio but the venue is outdated.

Meanwhile, Roma will look ahead to Monday’s draw for the second round of the UCL, where it could be pitted against 12-time champion Real Madrid or five-time winner Bayern — both of which finished second in their groups.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend