KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Milan have sacked old hero Zvonimir Boban as chief football officer after his falling-out with ceo Ivan Gazidis.
Boban, former Croatia and Milan playmaker, went public last week with his anger that ex-Arsenal director Gazidis had gone behind his back in reportedly opening talks with German coach Ralf Rangnick.
The row comes amid a far greater national and regional crisis after the government took emergency powers to seal off the entire Lombardy region, which includes the city of Milan, because of the spread of coronavirus which has already claimed more than 200 lives.
All sport events will have to be staged behind closed doors – if at all. Milan – to complete a painful weekend – lost 2-1 at home to Genoa amid a row with the Sports Ministry over whether matches should have gone ahead at all.
As for the local, footballing, matter Elliott Management, American owner of the long-embattled former world, European and Italian champions, threw its support in the row behind Gazidis which meant the end of Boban’s short stint back at San Siro.
Boban joined Milan only last June after three years as joint deputy secretary-general of world football federation FIFA. It has been reported that another old Milan hero, Paolo Maldini, has also left the club in the fall-out.
Gazidis is considered to want the club to build from within while Boban and Maldini wanted to speed up the redevelopment process with a mixture of experience and youth.
Boban went public over the Rangnick report by saying: ”Not even warning us was disrespectful and inelegant. It was not the Milan style. At least not what we remembered the Milan style as being.”
Gazidis has told the players that he, the club and sporting director Ricky Massara have full confidence in current coach Stefano Pioli and had not been in talks with Rangnick, the former RB Leipzig coach who is head of sport for parent company Red Bull GmbH.
A club statement said:
AC Milan confirms that it has informed Zvonimir Boban of the termination of his contract as Chief Football Officer of the Club with immediate effect. The Club thanks Zvonimir for his service to the Club over the past nine months, and wishes him all the best for his future professional career.
The Club will keep supporting Stefano Pioli and his first team in all areas and is optimistic looking ahead to the remaining games of the 2020 season. The Club’s ambition remains to return to the top tier of European Football, while investing responsibly in the team in compliance with UEFA Financial Fair Play.
Ivan Gazidis, CEO of AC Milan, said: “We thank Zvone for his efforts over the past nine months and wish him well in his future endeavors. We must now turn our attention to football and the important games to come. Stefano Pioli and his staff are doing an exceptional job growing the performances of the team every week and will have our full support as they continue this work, in what is a difficult time for the country”.
World youth star
As an 18-year-old Boban won the FIFA World Youth Championship with the former Yugoslavia in 1987. In the final he scored a crucial goal in 85thminute and then converted the winning penalty in the shoot-out.
After starring for Dinamo Zagreb he was sold to Milan with whom he won the Champions League and four Serie A titles. He also led Croatia to third place at the 1998 World Cup before retiring to a world of new opportunities.
He completed a history degree at the Univesrsity of Zagreb with a thesis concerning Christianity in the Roman Empire before stepping into the sports media as business manager of Sportske Novisti while developing a career as TV analyst in both Croatia and Italy.