Lega Pro/Serie C President warned the Pro Piacenza debacle, losing 20-0 with seven teenagers and a member of staff on the pitch, “must never happen again.”
The ludicrous event occurred on Sunday in a league game, as Pro Piacenza are effectively bankrupt.
Players have not been paid all season, so having already forfeited three matches, they had to present a team against Cuneo or be thrown out of the division.
They cobbled together seven teenagers and a member of staff, believed to be a physio, to take to the field and were promptly beaten 20-0.
Pro Piacenza don’t even have a Coach, so their 19-year-old captain had to sign in as their representative.
Today, Pro Piacenza, Matera, Cuneo and Lucchese have been penalised eight points and handed €35,500 fines.
“In our last Federal meeting, we decided that whoever doesn’t pay player wages will be immediately excluded from the competition,” Lega Pro President Francesco Ghirelli told Radio Rai.
The issue doesn’t just involve Pro Piacenza, as Matera have already been thrown out of Serie C this season for skipping four matches, while others teeter on the edge of financial ruin.
“We are the only league that three years ago cut from 90 to 60 clubs, but nothing has really changed. The problem is we need to figure out what to change in Italian football in general and not just the Lega Pro.
“This was an incredible violation of the foundations of sporting principles. I am also horrified that the parents of those kids allowed them to go out there and play just to tell their friends that they’d made their debuts in professional football.”
Pro Piacenza had started the season well and were top of the table with three wins and two draws in the opening five rounds.
However, the squad received only half the wages from August and nothing ever since, prompting some players and their families to be kicked out of their rented homes.
“Talking to the President was surreal, he didn’t acknowledge there was anything wrong, even when faced with the evidence,” said ex-Pro Piacenza player Dario Polverini in La Gazzetta dello Sport.