Aurelio De Laurentiis, the owner and savior of the soccer club S.S.C. Napoli, is also a successful Italian film producer in his native country. So we can forgive him for his penchant for the theatrical. But mio dio, his reaction to next season's Serie A fixtures was one for the ages.
Yesterday, De Laurentiis attended the televised announcement of the Serie A schedules in Milan. When he took over Napoli in 2004, the club had fallen to Serie C. Since then, it has climbed through the ranks of the Italian football leagues with the rapidity of Castel di Sangro; they reached Serie A by the 2007-08 season. Napoli finished third overall and qualified for the Champions League last year, and De Laurentiis was expecting a break in this year's fixtures so that the club could truly compete in the UEFA:
De Laurentiis had made a formal request to officials to go easy on his side in the opening weeks of the new season to help them make a strong start to their first Champions League campaign for 21 years.
But, instead, the calendar handed them a meeting with defending Italian champions AC Milan on matchday three, the weekend after their opening Champions League game, while they will play Inter Milan on matchday six.
This is where it all gets wonderfully dramatic, and wonderfully Italian. After seeing the fixtures, De Laurentiis reportedly "stormed out" and shared his thoughts with the reporters who chased after him:
"It's all been mapped out against us. Enough is enough, I'm going back to film-making. I am ashamed of being Italian. I think I need to change country and citizenship," he said.
"I asked that the teams playing in Europe were protected. Create a calendar specifically for teams that are involved in European competition. Otherwise Italian football will not recover and build a presence in Europe."
And then he waved down a stranger on a scooter, hopped on the back, and rode off into the traffic. With the music that's been added to every YouTube video of the getaway, it's possible that a legend was born in Milan yesterday.
Napoli Chief Unhappy at Fixture List [SportingLife.com]
Napoli owner storms out of draw, rides off on stranger's scooter [Dirty Tackle]