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Totti Today: Raggi’s Dubious Stadio Claims, Spinazzola Conquers Instagram and More

More updates Stadio della Roma, Spinazzola's IG ascension, a new sport sweeps through Italy, and more.

FBL-ITA-AS ROMA-STADIUM Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

The weather is perfect. It’s not humid, it’s no dry heat, it’s just clear skies with a soothing breeze. But I’m talking about London, and not Rome where people have plenty to feel upset, happy, and every emotion in between this July. But let’s start with the worst of the worst:

Virginia Raggi’s Stadio Claims Hit New, Embarrassing Low

SS Lazio Press Conference Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Virginia Raggi was on the warpath this week, claiming that former construction magnate Luca Parnasi’s Euronova (the former owners of the Tor di Valle area) were in the way of getting a motion passed through parliament to have the Stadio della Roma project officially revoked as a matter of “public interest.”

(Just wait one second before you fall asleep because we’re not even at the truly contentious part here.)

Before the City of Rome feels comfortable to commit to a NEW Stadio della Roma project in another location (through the city’s corporate vehicle Roma Capitale), they want to see the Tor Di Valle project completely revoked from the public interest list. And that much is fair enough. What isn’t is the usual circular reasoning around why it’s not getting done. Raggi claims Euronova hasn’t presented the necessary paperwork and, until they do, both A.S. Roma and Roma Capitale (i.e. the city itself) are “legally bound” (in Raggi’s own words) to the Tor di Valle area.

(Just bear with us a little more until we present a much more straightforward version below.)

Raggi’s claims immediately faced blowback from several corners, but not least of all the Parnasi family themselves. Flavia Parnasi (acting executive of Euronova on behalf of her brother Luca) is one of many names, this morning, to join the queue of accusing Mayor Raggi of lies, claiming “no one is legally bound” to the Tor di Valle area and that it isn’t possible for the abandoned Stadio della Roma project to stand in the way of any new stadium proposal that A.S. Roma wants to make to the city.

Mayor Of Rome Virginia Raggi Meets SS Lazio Women Photo by Marco Rosi - SS Lazio/Getty Images

Regardless of who you want to believe here, or if you even care at this point, the fact is the Tor di Valle area has been sold off by Euronova to Czech tycoon Radovan Vitek for 45 million euros. If you can sell a “public interest” land between two private parties, what’s stopping you from getting a project within the land itself revoked in government? Let’s speculate:

The Too Long: Didn’t Mayor version: Virginia Raggi is second-last in the polls for the 2021 Rome Mayoral Election. The Stadio della Roma project isn’t the biggest mistake she’s committed in office (not by a long shot), but Raggi and the MS5 party could still do without the pre-election headlines that they just spent the last five years committing public time and money to a project that, to the surprise of everyone, new A.S. Roma owner Dan Friedkin pulled out of as soon as he could. That left the city liable to pay out millions to Euronova in a suit for damages, which the city doesn’t have the budget for at this moment. No Roman taxpayer would re-elect a mayor that has the average citizen paying damages to a private company whose offices were raided by the regional police just a couple of years ago, in what was claimed a “victory for justice” by the very same mayor back then.

So when will the new Stadio della Roma project be greenlit? Or even talked about by the club? It’s unlikely to be before September or October, whenever the mayoral elections are done and Raggi is no longer in office. Then the new mayor can claim it was all the old mayor’s fault that Roma’s citizens are paying out damages for a stadium that isn’t even built. And everyone can move on.

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Luciano Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

The most optimistic prediction, from Siamo La Roma, is that the abandoned Tor di Valle proposal will be officially revoked in parliament this coming Tuesday or Thursday at the latest. This is partly based on A.S. Roma’s official “now or never” stance, where Roma CEO Guido Fienga said that if another year is wasted talking about approving a new stadium then the club may as well focus their efforts (and money) on growing in other areas, without a private stadium.

Personally, I just like the idea of buying the Stadio Olimpico from CONI, closing it down for two years, taking out the running track, bringing the pitch closer to the stands, modernizing the facilities, and calling it a day.

Leonardo Spinazzola Has Instagram Figured Out

The Italian national football team at the Quirinale Photo by Rocco Spaziani/Archivio Spaziani/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Nothing can stop Leonardo Spinazzola’s rise on social media. I’ve said on the podcast that I feel Spinazzola deserves a lot more from club and country than just being fobbed off with a “fallen hero, we did it for you” story. If this were James Pallotta’s Roma, Spinazzola would already have been handed a contract extension right now that shaves off the cost of his exorbitant 2019 transfer fee and lets Leo get to focusing on nothing but recovery back to 100 percent.

We’ll see if the Friedkin Era fronts up on that end but, for now, Spinazzola has become one of the most followed Roma players on Instagram. And for good reason.

That’s Spinazzola responding to his wife’s Instagram account getting hacked last night with the caption: “how I feel when my wife can no longer use Instagram.” That’s better than any slogan or punchline your average social media manager could come up with, and it’s Spinazzola’s infectious energy that’s led to a 102% growth in his IG followers this summer (the performances with Italy helped) as well as surpassing the one million follower count.

Alberto De Rossi Stays Another Year, But At What Cost?

AS Roma U19 v Atalanta BC U19 - Primavera 1 TIM Playoffs Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

We all love familiar names at faces at the club. It lets us package every uncertainty into a relatable story, not least of all the idea that an Italian club is just one well-knit, close family of kin pushing each other along. But Alberto De Rossi also plays upon another typecast that younger-generation Italians have been wanting to break free from for some time now: older dudes staying in office way too long, keeping their foot on the necks of the up-and-comers.

Today, ADR spoke about passion, desire for the job, and all that good stuff. With the kind of football Roma Primavera has been playing since 2003, I’m on board with Alberto De Rossi coaching that team for another year. But it doesn’t mean we should just turn a blind eye to all the coaches that haven’t been given the promotion to ADR’s job in the last two decades.

Roma just waved goodbye to youth coach Tugberk Tanrivermis, who did excellent work with both the Roma U-15s (winning a league title) and the Roma U-16s (on course to win a title before the pandemic suspended the league) and was highly rated around Europe even before Roma brought him to the club seasons ago. Tanrivermis now goes on to coach Spezia Primavera for the 2021-2022 season.

Roma also waved goodbye to U-18 coach Aniello Parisi, who guided the newly-formed Roma U-18 side to their first Scudetto final against Genoa this season. Parisi goes onto coach Luxembourg-based club Hesperange’s U-23 side for next season.

Should we care? Not necessarily. Alberto De Rossi keeping his hold on Roma’s U-19 ranks isn’t a problem that the club needed solving anytime soon. But one day it will, and when time is called on ADR’s career, it’ll most likely be justified in terms of finally letting the young coaching names below him rise up the ladder through Rome.

Italy Welcomes FootGolf as a Sport

One final piece of news away from Rome is that Italy welcomes FootGolf to Sanremo this weekend. It’s a new tournament for the sport that’s been brought to the peninsula by none other than ex-Roma player Diego Fuser. Fuser is the president of the Lega Nazionale FootGolf.

Yes, it’s a thing. It looks like a damn fun thing, too. Who’d have thought the traditionally working-class sport of football would be allowed onto gated-community golf courses? But here we are.

Besides Fuser, 14 former international football stars have tied their name to this brand-new tournament. The former Roma names are bolded below:

Vincent Candela, Demetrio Albertini, Gigi Di Biagio, Luca Antonini, Cristian Zaccardo, Sergio Pellissier, Sebastian Frey, Frey Nicolas, Dario Marcolini, Pietro Vierchowod, Alessandro Budel, Cristian Zenoni, Serginho

We don’t know if you’d have any luck finding sports channels or social media accounts that are following the final results. They are most likely too busy covering Francesco Totti’s 8-a-side team having lost a tournament final to Lazio this past week. But that won’t be a headline you’ll read in Totti Today, because God doesn’t lose to Lazio. He simply chooses benevolence.