MILAN - Italy forward Antonio Cassano's
future at Sampdoria will be decided at a second arbitration
hearing on Monday when he could become a free agent and spark a
scramble for his signature.
Colourful Cassano, constantly in trouble in the past for
various antics before appearing to have matured, has been
suspended by Samp since verbally abusing club owner Riccardo
Garrone in late October and refusing to attend a dinner.
A first hearing on Friday failed to resolve the dispute,
with Samp asking for his contract to be voided while Cassano's
lawyers argued that the former Real Madrid man has been unfairly
treated given he has apologised and wants to stay.
"Conciliation has been unsuccessful so a decision has to be
made in arbitration. There will be another hearing on Monday
after which I will announce the verdict," arbitration chairman
Paolo Giuggioli told reporters
Giuggioli heard from witnesses including Samp players who
saw the foul-mouthed outburst from 28-year-old Cassano, who
missed Italy's friendly draw against Romaina last month because
he was not playing for his club.
Media have questioned why Garrone is pursuing the action
when he could sell his top player for a decent fee in January
rather than allowing him to walk away for free immediately if
Samp are successful.
The case is the opposite of last season's Goran Pandev
affair where the Macedonia striker took Lazio to arbitration
having been dropped for asking for a transfer and won the right
to join Inter Milan on a free.
Italy's World Cup goalkeeper Federico Marchetti, who has not
played a competitive game since the Azzurri's exit in South
Africa in June, is taking Cagliari to arbitration after being
dropped for the same reasons as Pandev.
His second hearing is due before the end of the year.
The propensity for Serie A club presidents to drop players
because of disagreements was a major reason why top-flight
players were planning to strike for this weekend's matches
before a deal with the league on Thursday averted the action.
Cassano has been linked in the media with Juventus and
several other Serie A clubs but Inter president Massimo Moratti
has said speculation the champions were interested was "fantasy
football" despite their lack of forward options.
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