is a football (soccer) club from Italy.
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Unione Sportiva Città di Palermo (simply known as Palermo) is an Football in Italy club from Palermo, Sicily which currently plays in Serie A, the top level of Italian football. Formed in 1900 as Anglo Panormitan Athletic and Football Club
, the club had various names before assuming its final form in 1987 and is currently the top-ranked football club from the island of Sicily. During its history, Palermo played in all the professional ranks of Italy, and took part in several Serie A seasons during the 1960s and early 1970s, also ending twice as Coppa Italia runners-up during that period.
Following its return to Serie A in 2004, the club has become one of the most prominent in Italy, also providing four players to the Italian team that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It has gained a UEFA Cup place in each of the past three seasons, narrowly missing UEFA Champions League qualification in 2007 and 2010, and losing its third Coppa Italia final in 2011.
The official team colours are pink and black, giving rise to the nickname rosanero
; another less common nickname is aquile
, referring to the eagle on both the official club logo and the city of Palermo's coat of arms.
US Città di Palermo plays its home games at Stadio Renzo Barbera (formerly known as La Favorita
) which from 2007 has a capacity of 36,349 people. However, the most common and officially stated foundation date is 1 November 1900, as the Anglo Panormitan Athletic and Football Club. The club is thought to have been founded by Ignazio Majo Pagano, a young Palermitan colleague of Whitaker who had discovered football while at college in London, England, where the sport was already popular. The initial staff comprised 3 Englishmen and 9 natives of Palermo, with Whitaker as honorary chairman, Edward De Garston as inaugural president, and with red and blue as the original team colours. The first recorded football match, played by the team on 30 December 1900, ended in a 5–0 defeat to an unidentified amateur English team. The first official match, played on 18 April 1901 against F.C. Messina Peloro ended in a 3–2 win to the Palermitan side.
In 1907, the club changed its name to Palermo Foot-Ball Club, and the team colours were changed to the current pink and black. From 1908 until the final event in 1914, Palermo was featured in the Lipton Challenge Cup
, organised by Scottish businessman Thomas Lipton. The competition saw them face off against S.S.C. Napoli; Palermo won the competition three times, including a 6–0 victory in 1912.
After a gap during World War I, the club was refounded in 1919 as Unione Sportiva Palermo, by a committee of young university students and sportsmen. During the early 1920s, the club mainly competed in the Campionato Lega Sud
, a football league in Southern Italy, reaching the semi-finals in 1924 before being knocked out by Taranto Sport, A.S. Roma and S.S.C. Napoli. The club was dissolved in 1927 due to financial problems, but was reformed one year later following a merger with Vigor Palermo under the name Palermo FootBall Club. Originally admitted to Prima Divisione
(First Division), the equivalent of today's Serie C1, the team was promoted into Serie B in 1930 and finally reached Serie A in 1932. From its debut season in Italy's top division, Palermo relocated to a new home, the Stadio Littorio
(Lictorian Stadium) in the Favorita neighbourhood, today known as Stadio Renzo Barbera. The club played Serie A until 1936, when they were relegated to Serie B and first played Calcio Catania in the Sicilian derby.
In 1936 Palermo was forced by the fascist regime to change its strip to yellow and red, after the official colours of the local municipality. Meanwhile, economic difficulties arose, and in 1940 they were expelled by the Italian Football Federation because of financial problems.
Post-war years (1947–2002)
After World War II, the team returned to Serie A by winning the Serie B championship of Serie B 1947-48. The new Palermo squad featured players such as Czechoslovakian legend Čestmír Vycpálek who signed from Juventus F.C. alongside Conti, Carmelo Di Bella and Pavesi. Massive changes in the board, as well as the manager's job and the squad proved successful and the club returned to Serie A in 1956. Palermo then became a "yo-yo club," bouncing up and down between the top two Italian leagues. Several stars played for Palermo during this period, such as Argentina striker Santiago Vernazza (51 goals in 115 games with the rosanero
), goalkeepers Roberto Anzolin and Carlo Mattrel, Giuseppe Furino and Franco Causio. Palermo marked its best campaign in Serie A 1961-62, finishing 8th in Serie A. However, in 1963 they were relegated to Serie B, and played there for five seasons. Palermo played again in Serie A between 1968–1970.
In 1970, Renzo Barbera took over the club as the new chairman. After 1973, Palermo FBC remained firmly rooted in Serie B. Despite this, Palermo reached two Coppa Italia finals, both of which they narrowly lost: in 1974 to Bologna F.C. 1909 on penalty shoot-outs, and in 1979 to Juventus F.C. after extra time. Barbera left the club in 1980 and Palermo were relegated to Serie C1 four years later. The Serie B 1985-86 season which ended in the summer was however the last for Palermo FBC as having just saved themselves from relegation, the club was expelled by the football federation due to financial problems. In the summer of 1987, after a year without professional football in Palermo, the club was re-founded bearing its current name, and began to play in Serie C2, which it promptly won.
In the 1990s, Palermo played between Serie B and Serie C1 with a few highs, such as its Serie B 1995-96 Serie B and Coppa Italia campaign, the latter ending in the quarter-finals, and a number of lows such as the 1998 relegation to Serie C2 after defeat in the play-offs to U.S. Battipagliese, later revoked by the federation to fill a vacant league slot.
In March 2000, A.S. Roma chairman Franco Sensi, led a holding company to purchase Palermo and Sergio D'Antoni became the President of Palermo and Palermo were promoted to Serie B one year later after a dramatic final week of the season, with Palermo coming back from behind to take first place from league-toppers Sicilian rivals A.C.R. Messina. The first comeback season in the Serie B, with Bortolo Mutti as head coach, was a eventless one, with Palermo ending in a mid-table placement.
The Zamparini era: back to Serie A and European years (2002–present)
In the summer of 2002, Friulian businessman and S.S.C. Venezia owner Maurizio Zamparini acquired the club from Franco Sensi in a 15 million euro bid, with the clear intention to bring Palermo back to Serie A and then establishing the club as a Serie A regular with aims of participations to European competitions. Palermo failed in its first attempt to reach the Serie A in 2002–03 on the final week of the season, but later managed to achieve it after a hard but successful U.S. Città di Palermo season 2003-04 which saw Palermo crowned as Serie B champions and promoted to Serie A after 31 years under head coach Francesco Guidolin, who was hired in January 2004 as replacement for dismissed Silvio Baldini.
The U.S. Città di Palermo season 2004-05, the first in Serie A for the Palermo club since 1973, ended with an excellent sixth place, securing qualification for the UEFA Cup 2005-06 UEFA Cup for the first time in its history. Luca Toni broke the Palermo Serie A scoring record by notching up 20 league goals. Guidolin left in 2005 and was replaced by Luigi Delneri, who did not manage to repeat his predecessor's successes and was later replaced by Giuseppe Papadopulo. Despite an unimpressive eighth place in the Serie A table, Palermo reached the last 16 in the UEFA Cup as well as the Coppa Italia 2005-06 semi-finals. Guidolin's return was followed by Palermo being admitted to play UEFA Cup again due to the 2006 Serie A scandal and Palermo players Andrea Barzagli, Cristian Zaccardo, Simone Barone and Fabio Grosso being crowned 2006 FIFA World Cup winners. A number of impressive signings were made to establish an ambitious team, and a good beginning in the U.S. Città di Palermo season 2006-07 appeared initially to confirm this. However, a winless 11 games streak caused Palermo to fall down from third to seventh place. The club ended the season in fifth place and qualified again to UEFA Cup 2007-08 for U.S. Città di Palermo season 2007-08, with Stefano Colantuono at Guidolin's place. A number of unimpressive performances left the rosanero
in eighth place, seven points shy of the fourth UEFA Champions League spot, and a crushing 5–0 away defeat to Juventus F.C. led Zamparini to sack Colantuono on 26 November 2007 and call in Guidolin for a fourth spell as Palermo boss. On 24 March 2008 Guidolin was sacked and left the club for the fourth time with his predecessor Stefano Colantuono taking charge for the second time in the season.
Colantuono was confirmed as Palermo boss for U.S. Città di Palermo season 2008-09. During the summer transfer market, club stars like Amauri, Barzagli and Zaccardo were sold. New signings included former and current Italian internationals Marco Amelia, Fabio Liverani and Antonio Nocerino. The rosanero
started their season with a disappointing 1–2 home loss to Lega Pro Prima Divisione side Ravenna Calcio in the Third Round of the Coppa Italia 2008-09. After just one game from the new campaign, a 1–3 loss to Udinese Calcio, Zamparini sacked Colantuono, and the head coach role was then given to Davide Ballardini. With Ballardini as head coach, Palermo ended the season with a respectable eighth place, and also won its first Campionato Primavera national title, under the guidance of youth coach Rosario Pergolizzi. After the end of the season, Palermo dismissed Ballardini from the coaching post following disagreements with the board, and replaced him with Walter Zenga, whose appointment from Sicilian arch-rivals Catania was greeted with surprise and dismay from supporters of both parties. Zenga's reign however lasted only thirteen games, as he was dismissed on 23 November 2009 due to poor performances, ironically after a 1–1 home tie to Sicilian rivals, as well as Zenga's former team, Catania, with former S.S. Lazio boss Delio Rossi being appointed at his place. Under the tutelage of Delio Rossi, results dramatically improved, and Palermo established a record of seven consecutive home wins, and also achieved prestigious results such as two 2–0 wins against Italian giants A.C. Milan and Juventus F.C.; the latter win, achieved on February, led Palermo to climb over the bianconeri
in fourth place, establishing the rosanero
as serious contenders for a UEFA Champions League spot, which they ultimately lost to U.C. Sampdoria by one point only. Such season also launched new emerging stars such as midfielder Javier Pastore and goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, who went on to become integral part of their corresponding international teams.
The new season started with Delio Rossi still in charge of the club: Simon Kjær and Cavani left the club, and a few more promising youngsters were signed (most notably Argentine Ezequiel Muñoz and the Slovene duo of Armin Bačinović and Josip Iličić), plus more experienced acquisitions such as forwards Massimo Maccarone and Mauricio Pinilla. The 2010–11 season also marked Palermo's return into continental football, in the UEFA Europa League. Palermo reached their third Coppa Italia finals after defeating Milan 4–3 on aggregate on May 10, 2011, then losing 1–3 to Inter in the final. For the 2011–12 season, Delio Rossi was replaced by former Chievo boss Stefano Pioli, who was however sacked before the Serie A kickoff after being eliminated by Swiss minnows FC Thun in the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League third preliminary round. In a somewhat surprise move, Pioli was replaced by under-19 team coach Devis Mangia, with no managerial experience other than at youth team and minor league level; despite that, Mangia turned Palermo fortunes by leading the rosanero
in fifth place thanks to an impressive string of six consecutive home wins, thus deserving a long-term deal at the club. However, a string of poor results led Palermo to three consecutive defeats, including elimination from the Coppa Italia and a disappointing loss in the Sicilian derby, persuading Zamparini to replace Mangia with the more experienced Bortolo Mutti.
Colours and badge
The official badge as of 2004 is a pink/black escutcheon (heraldry) with an eagle poised for flight within it, and the official club denomination "U.S. Città di Palermo" in capital letters on the top. The eagle instead represents the city of Palermo, as it is also part of the city's official coat of arms.
Palermo originally played with red and blue as its official colours since its foundation in 1898, but decided to switch to the current choice of pink and black on 27 February 1907, contemporaneously with the change of denomination to Palermo Foot-Ball Club
The colour choice was suggested by count Giuseppe Airoldi, a prominent founding member of the club. In a letter Airoldi wrote on 2 February 1905 to club councillor Joseph Whitaker (ornithologist), he defined pink and black as "colours of the sad and the sweet", a choice he asserted to be a good fit for a team characterized by "results as up and down as a Swiss clock", noting also the fact that red and blue were a widely diffuse choice of colours at the time.
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Palermo plays its home matches at Stadio Renzo Barbera, located in the Favorita
neighbourhood. The stadium was opened in 1932, during the fascist regime, with the name Stadio Littorio
(Lictorial Stadium). The inaugural match was played on 24 January 1932, against Atalanta B.C.; Palermo won it 5–1. In 1936, it was renamed Stadio Michele Marrone
, after a fascist hero who died in the Spanish civil war.
Initially a racetrack was present, and there were no curved sections, but only terraces and a stand. In 1948, following the end of World War II and the fall of the Fascist regime, the stadium assumed the denomination of Stadio La Favorita
, after the neighbourhood where it was located, and was also heavily restructured, without racetrack and with two curved sections, thus increasing its capacity to 30,000.
The majority of Palermo supporters come from the city and its neighbourhood. However, Palermo is also widely popular throughout Western Sicily, as well as among Sicilian immigrants in northern Italy, leading Palermo to have one of the largest followings in its away matches. US Palermo supporters, mainly Sicilian emigrants, are also present outside Italy; a number of Palermo fans living in and around the German city of Solingen have even founded a club named after their favourite club, FC Rosaneri
, which as of 2007 plays in the Kreisliga league.
Support for Palermo is closely associated with a strong sense of belonging to Sicily; indeed, it is not uncommon to see flag of Sicily waved by fans and ultras during Palermo matches. Palermo fans are also twinned with U.S. Lecce ultras. The latter was even more strengthened in recent times by the acquisition of Fabrizio Miccoli, who is originary from the outskirts of Lecce and a well-known supporter of the local team, who then went on to become a key player and captain for the Sicilians.
Palermo's biggest rivals by far are fellow islanders Calcio Catania. Matches between Palermo and Catania are usually referred to as Sicilian derby, despite the existence of a third valid Sicilian team, F.C. Messina Peloro, who played in Serie A alongside Palermo and Catania in recent years. Rivalry with Messina, although historically older, is instead less intense than that with Catania.
The 2006–07 return match between Palermo and Catania, played on 2 February 2007 at Stadio Angelo Massimino, Catania, is remembered due to the death of policeman Filippo Raciti who was injured during 2007 Catania football violence. This event led Italian Federation commissioner Luca Pancalli to suspend all football leagues and national team events in the whole country for a couple of weeks.
As of 25 January 2012
Out on loan
As of 23 December 2011
- Bortolo Mutti — Coach (sport)
- Mauro Di Cicco — Coach (sport)
- Giambattista Piacentini — Technical collaborator
- Renato Scarpellino — Technical collaborator
- Marco Petrucci — Fitness coach
- Mauro Bacchin — Goalkeeping coach
- Antonello Capodicasa — Primavera
- Cesare Beggi — Primavera
Under-19 assistant coach
- Tarcisio Catanese — Allievi Nazionali
- Giovanni Tedesco — Allievi Regionali
- Rosario Argento — Youth system chief
Below is a list of prominent head coaches who served at least two seasons, reaching at least a promotion or a tournament final during their stay with the club:
- Gyula Feldmann
- Carmelo Di Bella
- Delio Rossi
- Francesco Guidolin
- Fernando Veneranda
- Čestmír Vycpálek
Over the years Palermo has had various owners, chairmen or presidential figures; here is a chronological list of the known presidents:
- Edward De Garston (1900)
- Michele Vannucci del Corbo (1903)
- Ignazio Majo Pagano (1903)
- Barone Sergio (1920)
- Columbus (1924)
- Barone Luigi Bordonaro (1929)
- Francesco Paolo Barresi (1931)
- Valentino Colombo (1934)
- Giovanni De Luca (1935)
- Valentino Colombo (1936)
- Paolo Di Pietra (1937)
- Salvatore Barbaro (1938)
- Federico D'Arle (1941)
- Giuseppe Agnello (1942)
- Stefano La Motta (1947)
- Giuseppe Guazzardella (1948)
- Raimondo Lanza di Trabia (1951)
- Barone Carlo La Lomia (1952)
- Mario Fasino (1953)
- Ernesto Pivetti (1954)
- Giuseppe Trapani (1955)
- Arturo Cassina, G. Seminara (1956)
- Casimiro Vizzini (1957)
- Guglielmo Pinzero (1963)
- Di Fresco, Barbaccia, Gorgone (1964)
- Luigi Gioia (1965)
- Giuseppe Pergolizzi (1967)
- Renzo Barbera (1970)
- Gaspare Gambino (1981)
- Roberto Parisi (1982)
- Salvatore Matta (1985)
- Salvino Lagumina (1987)
- Giovanni Ferrara (1989)
- Liborio Polizzi (1993)
- Giovanni Ferrara (1995)
- Sergio D'Antoni (2000)
- Maurizio Zamparini (2002)
- Coppa Italia
- Serie B
- Serie C
- Serie C1
- Serie C2
- Coppa Italia Serie C
- Coppa Federale Siciliana
- Whitaker Challenge Cup
- Lipton Challenge Cup
Not including league playoff matches
- Most league goals – 62, Carlo Radice (1929–32)
- Most Serie A league goals – 59, Fabrizio Miccoli (2007–Present)
- Most goals in all competitions – 64, Fabrizio Miccoli (2007–Present)
- Most goals in a season – 30, Luca Toni (2003–04)
- Most league appearances – 319, Roberto Biffi (1988–99)
- Most European appearances - 15, Mattia Cassani
- Most Serie A league appearances – 161, Mattia Cassani (2006–2011)
- Current player with most league appearances – 161, Mattia Cassani (updated 24 August 2011)
- Biggest win and biggest home win – 8–0 (v. Pro Patria Calcio, 5 November 1950)
- Biggest away win – 7–1 (v. U.S. Lecce, 23 October 1994)
- Biggest defeat and biggest away defeat – 0–9 (v. A.C. Milan, 18 February 1951)
- Biggest home defeat – 0–7 (v. Udinese Calcio, 27 February 2011)