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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Italian-American Entrepreneur Rocco Commisso of Mediacom Purchases ACF Fiorentina

Rocco Commisso, the new owner of ACF Fiorentina.
Rocco Commisso.
Image credit:
Mediacom Communications.

Italian-American entrepreneur, Rocco Commisso, takes over the reigns at ACF Fiorentina in the latest American ownership purchase in the Italian Serie A (after AC Milan, AS Roma, and Bologna, respectively). The deal reportedly was worth 170 million euro or US $190 million according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Here is his first Italian media interview with Massimo Lopes Pegna of La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Mr. Commisso is the founder, Chairman, and CEO of Mediacom Communications in the USA and the owner of the New York Cosmos soccer club. Born in Calabria, his family emigrated from Italy when he was 12, and he grew up in the Bronx, New York. He played college soccer at Columbia University.

Fiorentina was in the relegation zone up until the final fixture of the season. The last time La Viola won the Italian Serie A Scudetto (title) was in 1969. Their last trophy was the Coppa Italia in 2001. In recent years, they have made a few UEFA Champions League appearances and finished fourth in league play several times.

Best wishes to Mr. Commisso in his new venture. In bocca al lupo al Signor Commisso.

Italian to English translation by Steve Amoia of World Football Commentaries.

Q: Rocco, there's enthusiasm in Florence but a few fans are worried?

A: I know there is a little bit of concern. But why? Perhaps because I'm a Juventus fan? 

(He laughed at the joke but then replied in a more serious fashion.)

They need to give me time. I'm a man who doesn't promise what he can't deliver. I have never done so in my entire life. There's a saying in English, 'Underpromise and overdeliver.' Literally translated as: Promise less but then do more. It's a motto that has always governed my life.

It would be too easy to make proclamations right now. You need to work and demonstrate with facts. I prefer to be transparent. In reality, I've had Fiorentina in my heart for a long time. It's been since 2106 that I wanted (to buy the club.)

Translator's Note:
ACF Fiorentina team crest.
Image credit: ACF Fiorentina.

Fiorentina is known as "La Viola" which is a reflection of their unique purple-colored shirts. Mr. Commisso has admitted, both in the past, and at this juncture, that he grew up as a Juventus fan. Italian football fans have strange notions that you must be 100 percent loyal to their club in order to own it or even be its manager. Which is not a rational stance but one embraced by passionate fans. Especially given that Fiorentina and Juventus have a fierce rivalry. Supporters of La Viola should be pleased that this man knows Serie A and calcio in a very different way than other foreign ownership groups.

Q: What type of Fiorentina team do you have in mind?

A: No, not yet. I have met only a few people from the actual club. The Della Valle brothers and President Cognigni. All of the other names that have come out in recent days are not true (he used a colorful expression.)

Q: But the team will begin its season within a month. Time is running out.

A: We will meet with the local political leaders including the mayor. Then also the team and its coaching staff.

Q: What will your bring to Florence?

A: My passion and my Italian identity. Of all of the American groups who have purchased teams here, from (James) Pallotta, to (Joey) Saputo, to (Joe) Tacopina, I'm the only one who was born in Italy. I lived and died for the Azzurri from the time I was young and left this country.

Q: Well, for now, no names yet? What about the manager? Vincenzo Montella still has two years left on his contract.

A: That's right, but I have not yet made any evaluative decisions. It will be a period of transition in which I will be assisted by experts. Montella still has two years on his contract? You need to know that I don't like to sack my employees. I have a very long track record of loyalty to my workers and they are loyal to me.

Having said this, soccer is obviously a completely different world than that of business. And sometimes, you are forced to sacrifice someone.

Italian source: La Gazzetta dello Sport; "Commisso: "Montella? Non amo licenziare, ma a volte..."; Massimo Lopes Pegna; 6/6/2019.

Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator based in Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries since 2006 and published The Soccer Translator from 2008 to 2015. He has also contributed at AC Cugini Scuola Calcio, Beyond The Pitch, Football Media, Italian Soccer Serie A.com, Keeper Skool, and Soccerlens (Sportslens), respectively.

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