Milan (AFP) – Italian third-tier side Pro Piacenza were on Monday excluded from Serie C after fielding a team of just seven players in a 20-0 defeat by league rivals Cuneo, governing body Lega Pro announced.
Financially troubled Pro Piacenza, a side from northern Italy, have been unable to pay their players and staff, who have been on strike for several weeks.
Before Sunday’s game at Cuneo in Piedmont, northern Italy, bottom club Pro Piacenza had already forfeited three matches and a fourth would have seen them kicked out of Serie C.
So they took to the pitch with seven players, all teenagers born between 2000 and 2002. An eighth player could not initially start having forgotten his identity papers, and came on after an hour.
One of the two players born in 2000 was named on the match sheet as the coach, with a team physiotherapist even taking to the pitch at one point to substitute a player who was suffering from cramps.
Italian Football Federation president Gabriele Gravina had slammed the match as “an insult to sport” and vowed it would be “the last farce”.
Lega Pro sports judge Pasquale Marino on Monday ruled that Pro Piacenza would be excluded from Serie C, with the “farcial match” assigned as a 3-0 defeat.
In a statement Lega Pro slammed “Pro Piacenza’s unacceptable behaviour” which it said was also dangerous for players who had not been adequately prepared from the competitive point of view.
Team physio Alessio Picciarelli, who came onto the pitch to replace a player, was disqualified until December 31, 2019.
Pro Piacenza will also have to pay a fine of 20,000 euros ($22,615).
The Italian third division, which is made up of 20 teams, is professional in Italy, but many of the clubs have financial problems.
Last week Matera were kicked out of the league after forfeiting a fourth match with their players on strike since December, having not been paid since September.