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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Laughing In Livorno

I was watching a tape-delayed broadcast of yesterday's Livorno v. Inter Milan match on Telemundo. Since the Stadio Picchi was virtually deserted, save for season ticket holders, the cameras concentrated upon a few VIPs in attendance.

Wearing a NY Yankees baseball cap was Hernan Crespo, who was suspended for this match. Esteban Cambiasso, a fellow Argentine who is injured, was bundled up in a heavy jacket. Sitting right next to Crespo was L'imperatore, Adriano, who was deemed unfit for the game by Mister Mancini. But looking at him laughing and smiling, you would not have known that Inter's playboy/problem child was in the bad graces of his owner, Signor Massimo Moratti, the oil baron. Who was sitting directly behind him.

The RAI cameras showed the trio laughing and joking throughout the game, which was won, 1 to 2, by Inter. Signor Moratti is known for his close relationships with his players. But this is the first time that I have ever seen an owner sitting with his charges. Costly ones, at that. One would venture that almost $15 million dollars per year were watching this game from the deserted stands. But the way Inter have dominated the Serie A this year, they could probably win with a "B" team.

One of Moratti's "children" was Ronaldo of Brasil. He protected and nurtured "O Fenomeno" during his serious injury spells that occurred in his 5 year Inter tenure. But after a return to his usual great form in World Cup 2002, Ronaldo left Inter like a stealth bomber to join Real Madrid. Signor Moratti, along with the Inter faithful, felt betrayed. How could he leave after all they had done for him?

Ronaldo recently signed with bitter rivals, AC Milan, who will face Inter next Sunday in the Milanese derby. It should be an interesting atmosphere. Both on the pitch, and on the terraces. Moratti acted like a jilted lover when Ronaldo returned to the other side of the San Siro. Which demonstrates for all of their millions and billions, some owners take things very personally. Will he be laughing or crying next Sunday?

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