New Fiorentina Owner Rocco Commisso Offers La Viola Pride For Club's Future

Some say that hitting rock bottom is not the end, but a beginning. 

As far as Serie A side Fiorentina are concerned, the last few weeks of this season certainly represented one of their very darkest moments. Stuck with owners Andrea and Diego Della Valle, who had made mistake after mistake and entertained delusions of truth about the job they had done – when in actual fact they had been allowing the club to stagnate for many years – they finished an unthinkable 16th in the table as the campaign descended into chaos.

Situated in the center of Renaissance city Florence, Fiorentina are the only top-flight club in the city, concentrating the entire population in support of their beloved side, unlike dual-team locations such as Milan, Rome, and Turin. 

Anyone who has visited the Stadio Artemio Franchi can attest to the fact this greatly concentrates the passion of the fanbase, but lately their discontent over the last 17 years of mediocrity had bubbled over. Protests over the owners had been happening for some time, but even the most loyal of fans in the Curva Fiesole had left their seats empty in the opening 45 minutes of recent home matches to demonstrate their abject disgust. 

Finally, it seemed like the Della Valle brothers had got the message, as rumors of a takeover started to surface once the season had come to its depressing conclusion. 

What a difference 11 days makes. 

From the day the Viola retained their Serie A status with a 0-0 draw with Genoa, it’s difficult to believe that less than two weeks passed between that despair and the emergence of new owner Rocco Commisso. 

The New Jersey-based billionaire arrived in Florence on Thursday, June 6, and entered a whirlwind 24 hours in which he admitted he had not slept very much at all. After signing the all-important legal documents and meeting Florence’s mayor, Dario Nardella, Commisso bought the club outright and held his first press conference at the stadium on Friday afternoon.

The Mediacom magnate revealed he had been born in the south of Italy, migrating to the U.S. at the age of 12. He professed his love for the game, having already purchased New York Cosmos FC and attempting to buy AC Milan before finally realizing his dream of owning a Serie A side with Fiorentina.

“We closed the deal quickly,” the charismatic businessman revealed at that introductory press conference. “We saved two or three months. Today I talked to all the employees. I want them to know that I’m loyal. I’m not here to send anyone away. I’ve never done that. I’m here to learn, but I learn very quickly!”

As the Della Valle brothers have learned the hard way, Fiorentina supporters are very staunch in their defense of what is most precious to them: their football team. Outsiders are often viewed with suspicion, but Commisso – speaking in a mixture of English and Italian at his press conference – quickly seems to have won them over. 

“I won’t make any promises,” he continued. “I’ve dreamed of investing in Italy. I’m 69, I’ll make smart investments, so we’ll see what happens. I won’t wait 10 years. I don’t want to be arrogant, and I’m here to learn. I don’t like losing, but I never say I’ll win right away. It’s important to underline the fact that an Italian team have been taken over by an emigrant for the first time.”

His words were filled with cautious ambition as the idea of quickly catching up to clubs such as AS Roma and Inter, while the long-term aim, he said, was to compete with Juventus at the top. Whether such a feat is possible is anyone’s guess at this moment in time, however it is worth noting that he has built his fortune in the U.S. after only arriving in the country as a young teenager.

“[Sporting director Pantaleo] Corvino and [coach Vincenzo] Montella have contracts, as does [Federico] Chiesa,” Commisso went on to say. “We’ll face all these situations. I can put in €200 or €300 million, but then I hope UEFA favors Fiorentina as it did [Manchester] City, Milan, and PSG…”

His hint at FFP considerations gives a clear indication that he is ready to invest money within UEFA parameters, giving Viola supporters great hope for what previously looked to be a pretty bleak future. There is much work to be done, including the question of a new stadium, but Commisso seems to be open to all options including renovating their existing historic home.

As 8,000 Fiorentina supporters packed into the Franchi to welcome their new owner, there was a party atmosphere in the air. 

“Florence is free!” read a banner held aloft by members of the Curva Fiesole. “Welcome, Rocco.” 

It was a scene of true liberation from the frustrations and disappointments of the past, and as Rocco Commisso walked onto the pitch to the club’s anthem, “Oh, Fiorentina,” some of the words of the song should have given him great confidence for his future project.

“The Viola shirt fights with vigor, to be the pride and glory of Florence,” says one line. “On your flag you write ‘strength and heart’ and the victory and will always be ours.”

The fact is that the supporters do not expect Rocco Commisso to turn the club into a title challenger overnight. If he respects the city, learns about the club with humility, and shows pride, passion, “strength and heart” in his endeavors, Florence will treat him like a king.

Chloe Beresford specializes in Serie A for a number of outlets and can be found on Twitter and on Facebook via her page CalcioByChloe.

Roma Defender Chris Smalling Has Been Stellar In Italy

As if he’d not made enough of an impression since joining AS Roma on loan from Manchester United in the summer, defender Chris Smalling really stood out as an exceptional talent on the week of his 30th birthday. 

Hofstra Coach Simon Riddiough Doesn't Need The Power 5 To Define Success

By Jerry Beach

Simon Riddiough, the head coach of the Hofstra women’s soccer team, spent about two minutes of a 21-minute interview Tuesday afternoon discussing why he’s content at the Long Island school and not planning to see if he can replicate his success with a higher-profile Power Five school that would offer the resources and opportunities to make a deep NCAA Tournament run that are generally lacking in the mid-major arena.

Carlo Ancelotti, Aurelio De Laurentiis & Napoli Are In Complete Chaos

It’s hard to believe that only as far back as April 22, 2018, Napoli beat Juventus 1-0 in Turin to move top of the table with only four games remaining. Maurizio Sarri — himself now in charge at Juve — had broken the club record points total in each of the previous two campaigns, and would do so again in 2017-18, but the Naples men ultimately finished second, albeit with yet another unseen total of 91 points.

Canada Has An Opportunity To Prove Their Standing On Friday Against USMNT

This is the moment of truth for Canada's men's national team. 

Concacaf Nations League Returns For Final Group State In November

After nearly a month of waiting for the Concacaf Nations League to kick back into gear, the tournament is finally back this week with the final two matchdays in group play. 

Seattle Sounders & Toronto FC Clash With The MLS Cup On The Line

Just over a week after the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC went on the road and upset the favorites, MLS Cup 2019 is on the horizon as the 24th season in league history comes to a close. CenturyLink Field in Seattle will be the epicenter on Sunday at 3 PM when the two sides face off in the MLS Cup final for the third time in the past four years. 

Paulo Fonseca & The Unlikely Resurgence Of AS Roma In Serie A

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Potential USMNT Contributors From The Nations League Pre-Camp

November 15 could be a day of reckoning for Gregg Berhalter and the United States men's national team. After last month's 2-0 defeat to Canada — the first loss to their neighbors in 35 years — Berhalter needs a win in Orlando to help rectify the USA's position in the first-ever Concacaf Nations League. Anything other than a win would mean that Canada will advance to the semifinals, a shocking result for the U.S.

10 Things In Italy: Mario Balotelli, de Ligt Handballs & Conte's Inter

With the action in Italy heating up both on and off the field, it’s time to get you caught up with what’s been happening in the world of Serie A and, as always, “10 Things” is here to bring you right up to date.

Concaclusions, Ep. 9: Pulisic Strikes Again, Jiménez Haunts Arsenal

Another round of club play is in the books, and several of the region’s top players were in the headlines once again through clutch goals, quality performances, and even uncharacteristic errors.