Former AS Roma vice-president Joe Tacopina has said that the ongoing treatment of Juventus – in light of their 15-point deduction in Serie A – is undeserved, believing that those in positions of power in Italian football are seeking to make an example of the Old Lady.
Tacopina, who was previously president at Bologna and Venezia, is currently in that same role at Serie B side SPAL. Speaking to The Italian Football Podcast, Tacopina was asked about the capital gains case among other things and he had plenty to say.
“It seems like they wanted to make a statement,” Tacopina said of the Juventus case. “The old guard is gone now and sending off the Agnelli family. They’re gone now, the Agnelli family were synonymous with Italian football. They are being made an example of and I don’t think what is happening to them is warranted based on their actions. But we’re in a different world now.
“Here’s my issue with Italian football. As long as there’s justice on and off the field and are handed out equally to all then I’m fine with that. I have an issue sometimes that doesn’t seem to happen. I want to be clear there should be fairness across the board, whether you’re dealing with Juventus or Sassuolo.
“Juventus were a club who people said the league was in their pockets and the referees were in their pockets and they were called thieves but we’re not there anymore clearly, and so the pendulum shouldn’t swing too far the other way either.”
SPAL sack Daniele De Rossi
Roma legend Daniele De Rossi had been in charge of the Biancazzurri before being replaced by Massimo Oddo. Despite sitting bottom of the Serie B table and being at real risk of relegation, Tacopina admitted that the decision to part ways with the ex-midfielder was a tough one to make.
“It became a tougher decision [to sack him] when you add to the mix that he’s a very good friend of mine. And he’s been a good friend of mine since my days at Roma, he was somebody I was very close with and still am very close with,” Tacopina said.
“Which made it more difficult and more awkward but that’s the risk you run when you hire a friend in any business. It was disappointing but it had to be done. Look, we had 15 points in 16 games under Daniele. That’s not acceptable and Daniele himself acknowledged and understood that.
“To be honest, had it not been Daniele De Rossi it would have happened earlier, but because I know who he is as a person, character, and leader I assumed he would be able to muscle through this thing with us but it didn’t happen.
“Part of it is that he’s a new coach, [it was the] first time he’s had a head coaching job. He’s not particularly familiar with Serie B, which is a completely different world than Serie A or the Champions League, [a] different type of football.
“Our model of play didn’t really suit our squad; it was a tiki-taka sort of Barcelona-type of play. We possessed the ball 65% of the time under Daniele but we only had like two shots a game. And at the end of the day, you definitely can’t score if you don’t shoot.
“But let me make this absolutely clear: there is no doubt in my mind that Daniele De Rossi will become one of the great coaches in football. No doubt. Nothing changes. I said this when I appointed him and I think maybe the timing wasn’t right, perhaps he wasn’t ready.
“Unfortunately, we’re in a position at the bottom of the table and we have a roster that should be at the top of the table. We have [Andrea] La Mantia and [Gabriele] Moncini up front and behind them a certain guy named Radja Nainggolan player who is a world-class player.
“We’re not where we should be, and this is a result-oriented business.”
SPAL signing Radja Nainggolan
Another individual with ties to Roma arrived in Ferrara in the winter transfer window, and many were caught by surprise when Radja Nainggolan’s arrival at the Stadio Paolo Mazza was confirmed. The SPAL president had nothing but good things to say about the Belgian.
“It’s been unbelievable. A lot of people said there’s the good Radja and the bad Radja and that sometimes he goes off the reservation and he could be a wild man and all this stuff, despite being a world-class player,” Tacopina said.
“He’s been exemplary. He has been a leader on the pitch, talking to the players. His skillset is obviously unique. It’s like watching two different types of athletes when you compare him to anyone else in the Serie B and I don’t want to take away anything from anyone in the Serie B.
“But he is a world-class player even at this age because he’s in phenomenal physical shape still. He is a beast. When he kicks a ball it’s like a hockey puck going in 102 miles per hour. You just feel his presence on the pitch.
“And in the locker room he’s always there with the guys. He is always speaking with the young players during training and also afterwards goes out with them for dinner. It’s nice to see.
“One example of Radja’s commitment to SPAL is after Daniele left people speculated that he was going to leave. Because him and Daniele are very close, but everyone said he was going to leave but he got very angry and posted about it on social media calling them idiots. He is a special player and person.”