Roma sold to US businessman Friedkin for €591 million

Roma sold to US businessman Friedkin for €591 million
AS Roma's Portuguese head coach Paulo Fonseca reacts during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 football match between Sevilla FC and AS Roma at the MSV Arena on August 6, 2020 in Duisburg. (AFP)
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Updated 07 August 2020

Roma sold to US businessman Friedkin for €591 million

Roma sold to US businessman Friedkin for €591 million
  • Friedkin takes over the Italian side from American businessman James Pallotta

ROME: Roma on Thursday announced a change of ownership, with US billionaire Dan Friedkin buying the Serie A club for €591 million ($700 million).

Friedkin, 54, takes over the Italian side from American businessman James Pallotta, 62.

“AS Roma can confirm that an agreement has tonight been reached between AS Roma SPV, LLC, the majority shareholder of AS Roma S.p.A, and The Friedkin Group regarding the sale of the club,” the club said in a statement.

“The operation is valued at around €591 million,” the club added. The final sales agreement must be signed before the end of August.

Pallotta bought two-thirds of the club’s shares in 2012, but has had 100 percent ownership since 2014.

Houston-based Friedkin is the chief executive of the Friedkin Group, a consortium notably involved in the automotive and hotel and entertainment industry.

“All of us at The Friedkin Group are so happy to have taken the steps to become a part of this iconic city and club,” said Friedkin in a statement.

“We look forward to closing the purchase as soon as possible and immersing ourselves in the AS Roma family.”

According to Forbes, his fortune is estimated at just over four billion dollars (3.6 billion euros), which would make him the 504th richest man in the world. Friedkin’s son Ryan will reportedly be involved in the day-to-day running of the club.

“Over the last month, Dan and Ryan Friedkin have demonstrated their total commitment to finalizing this deal and taking the club forward in a positive way,” said Pallotta.

“I am sure they will be great future owners for AS Roma.”

Boston-based Pallotta had been unpopular among club fans for his rare appearances in Italy and his handling of player transfers and the departures of club legends Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi who were both pushed out of the club.

Roma have had recurring financial difficulties and been sanctioned by European football’s governing body UEFA for breaches of financial fair play.

As a result the club are very active in the transfer market, regularly selling off their best players, to the chagrin of fans.

Pallotta’s great project had been the construction of a new stadium in the south of the capital which was delayed because of legal and bureaucratic issues, and remains at the planning stage.

The high point of Pallotta’s reign was the club’s sensational Champions League 3-0 second leg comeback in 2018 to beat Barcelona, before losing to Liverpool in the semifinals.

The club won their third Serie A title in 2001, but have not lifted any silverware since the Italian Cup in 2008.

This season they finished fifth, missing out on elite European competition for the second year in a row.

They will play Sevilla later Thursday in the Europa League last 16.


Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community

Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community
Updated 16 January 2021

Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community

Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community
  • The New York Jets’ new head coach has families and community leaders excited in neighborhoods all across the US
  • The 41-year-old Saleh, expected to be formally introduced next week by the Jets, is the son of Lebanese parents and grew up in Detroit

NEW YORK: Robert Saleh has made history that extends far beyond any football field.
The New York Jets’ new head coach has families and community leaders excited in neighborhoods all across the country, celebrating the first known Muslim American to hold that position in the NFL.
That’s a source of great pride for a group that has been generally underrepresented in the league’s on-field leadership roles.
“It’s something that shows the growing diversity of our nation, the inclusion we’re trying to achieve at all levels of our society,” said Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “And I think it’s a very positive sign.”
The 41-year-old Saleh, expected to be formally introduced next week by the Jets, is the son of Lebanese parents and grew up in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to the largest Muslim population in the United States per capita.
“I think he’s just a trailblazer for a lot of coaches who are Muslim, to let them know that they do have a chance to be a head coach,” said Lions offensive lineman Oday Aboushi, a practicing Muslim who has played in the NFL for eight seasons — including his first two with the Jets.
“He shows them you do have a chance to be a defensive coordinator, you do have a chance to grow up and have a job at the professional level,” Aboushi added. “As long as you’re professional and you’re passionate about it like he is, I think a lot of people will look to him as a trailblazer, as far as everyone feeling like they could do it themselves and it’s an attainable dream.”
After Saleh’s college playing career as a tight end at Northern Michigan ended, he got his start in coaching by working as an assistant at Michigan State, Central Michigan and Georgia before being hired as a defensive intern by the Houston Texans in 2005.
Then came stints with Seattle and Jacksonville before Saleh became San Francisco’s defensive coordinator in 2017, helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl last year with his No. 2-ranked unit. He was a popular candidate among the seven teams looking for a new coach this offseason, and quickly emerged as the favorite for the Jets job.
Saleh, known for his energy on the sideline and being well-liked by players, impressed the Jets during his first remote interview. He was flown in a few days later for an in-person meeting with Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, president Hymie Elhai and general manager Joe Douglas at the team’s facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.
After a two-day visit, Saleh left to meet with Philadelphia for its coaching vacancy — but the Jets knew they found their new coach. The team announced Thursday night the sides reached an agreement in principle.
“As a pioneer in the sports world, Saleh will serve as an inspiration to many young American Muslims,” Selaedin Maksut, the executive director of CAIR’s New Jersey chapter, said in email to The Associated Press. “In addition to the positive impact that he’ll have on Muslims, Saleh’s presence in the field and on the screen will remind the rest of America that Muslims are a part of the fabric of this nation and proudly contribute to society. It’s a step toward tearing down walls and building bridges.
“Welcome to Jersey, brother!”
Ahmed Mohamed, the legal director of CAIR’s New York chapter, congratulated the Jets and Saleh for what he called a “historic hiring in the National Football League.” He’s optimistic it’s a sign of increasing inclusion and recognition of the Muslim community.
“For all the Muslim youth who may be told they don’t belong or can’t do something because of how they pray, we hope that when they see Mr. Saleh on national television, they will say to themselves that anything is possible and will reach for the stars,” Mohamed said in an email to the AP. “We hope Mr. Saleh’s hiring opens the door for other American Muslims in sports.”
Saleh is believed to be the third Arab American to become a head coach in the NFL. He follows Abe Gibron, who led Chicago from 1972-74, and Rich Kotite, who coached the Eagles (1991-94) and Jets (1995-96) — both of whom also had Lebanese roots.
Saleh is also just the fourth active NFL head coach who is a minority, joining Miami’s Brian Flores, Washington’s Ron Rivera and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin.
“Robert Saleh has made history on the field and off,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Friday night. “Now he’s knocking down barriers in our own backyard. Congrats, Coach!”
While Saleh’s focus will be on restoring the Jets to respectability and not necessarily being an inspiration, he has provided a path for others to someday follow.
“Any person in a new job, their first goal is going to be performance in their job,” Hooper said. “But I think a secondary consideration might be being an example to Muslim and Arab American youth around the country, that this kind of inclusion and respect for diversity is possible.
“But I don’t think he got the job because of his ethnic or religious background. He got this job because he’s good at what he does.”