Steve Morton/EMPICS Sport
on the edge

It's 20 years since that glorious Parma team won the Uefa Cup & now the club is in disarray

Captain Alessandro Lucarelli refers to ‘disgusting farce’ surrounding the club as latest owner is arrested on charges of money-laundering & embezzlement.

TWO DECADES AGO, Parma were crowned Uefa Cup champions after a 2-1 aggregate win over fellow Serie A side Juventus.

For a traditionally unfashionable and unsuccessful club to land such a major triumph was remarkable, particularly when they had only been promoted to the top-flight in 1990. But the winning had been in place for a number of years under the astute management of Nevio Scala. There was Coppa Italia glory in 1992 and a Cup Winners’ Cup the following year while they reached the final of that tournament again in 1994, only to suffer defeat to Arsenal.

The Parma team that beat Juve in 1995 featured names like Gianfranco Zola, Faustino Asprilla and Dino Baggio but within a few years, Lilian Thuram, Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Hernan Crespo and Enrico Chiesa had arrived and under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti, they finished runners-up in the race for the Scudetto. Later they grabbed another Uefa Cup with Juan Sebastian Veron in central midfield.

But for the last decade, the club has struggled to stay afloat. In 2003, the club’s owners – the Tanzi family – were embroiled in a financial meltdown. The family business – Parmalat – was ruined due to a massive fraud scandal that saw the patriarch arrested along with other family members and those close to the business empire. The club was declared insolvent and suffered through temporary administration.

Fighting for titles and picking up various European trophies was a fleeting fantasy. Ever since, it’s been a cold, dark and painful reality.

Earlier today, news filtered through that the club’s latest owner Giampietro Manenti had been arrested, along with 21 others, on charges including embezzlement and money-laundering. The club were due to face a bankruptcy hearing on Thursday but it’s not known if that will go ahead now due to the latest developments. Manenti took over the club just last month and promised to wipe out Parma’s £72m debt.

Soccer - UEFA Cup - Final - Parma v Olympique Marseille - Moscow. The Parma team that won the 1999 Uefa Cup featured names like Thuram, Buffon, Crespo, Cannavaro and Veron. FUMAGALLI CARLO / EMPICS Entertainment FUMAGALLI CARLO / EMPICS Entertainment / EMPICS Entertainment

Two weeks ago, Italian clubs had pledged £3.6m to help Parma finish the season. The club had to postpone a number of games because they couldn’t afford to pay the electricity or security bills. The players and other staff members haven’t been paid since last July.

Unsurprisingly, the club are rooted to the bottom of the table and have incurred various finance-related penalties.

The latest news has been met with immense criticism by captain and veteran defender Alessandro Lucarelli.

“I am bitter. There’s just a desire to shut everything down”, he said.

“Parma’s turned into a disgusting farce. It’s been difficult to take to the pitch for some time now and we’re still being dealt blows.”

Every day we get humiliated as fans, a city and as a team. I wish this to be over at some point, honestly we can’t take this anymore. It has been hard since November for a lot of reasons, we kept going but we are also tempted to give up once for all, because this situation has become a fake. I say this with sadness, honestly this is all rubbish.”

The club’s next fixture is supposedly a clash with Udinese on Sunday but it remains to be seen if the club will still be in existence come the weekend.

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