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Roma's Zeman takes on Italian establishment

  • Reuters, Thursday, September 13, 2012 7:56 PM

Veteran Czech coach Zdenek Zeman is stirring things up in Italy. Roma, one of 12 clubs he's coached in a coaching career that dates back 30 years, is off to a promising start in Serie A, having won at Inter Milan, 3-1, in its second game of the season.

The outspoken Zeman has made no friends with Italian authorities by ripping Italian federation president Giancarlo Abete over Italian soccer's slow decline (game-fixing scandals, fan violence and crumbling stadiums).

"Abete's not my enemy, he's the enemy of soccer," Zeman said in an interview with Sette, Corriere della Sera's weekly magazine published by the  newspaper. "There have been some improvements in soccer but I think that's more because of the fear of being found out than doing the right thing. We need some positive examples." Abete responded by saying Zeman should stick to his own business.

Zeman, 65, has also had a long-running feud with Juventus dating back to a 1998 doping investigation. He criticized how suspended coach Antonio Conte could continue to train Juventus this season while serving a 10-month ban for his role in the game-fixing scandal at Siena two years ago. "A suspended player can train," said Zeman, "but I don't think a coach serving a lengthy ban should be able to train his players."

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