Italian Soccer Coach Fired For Headbutting Opposing Player During Match

We publish independently audited information that meets our strong editorial guidelines. Be aware we may earn a commission if you purchase anything via links on our pages.
Lecce coach Roberto D'Aversa

Lecce soccer coach Roberto D’Aversa has been fired after headbutting Hellas Verona’s French striker Thomas Henry, the Italian club announced on its X account on Monday.

“Following the events at the end of the Lecce-Verona match, U.S. Lecce announces that coach D’Aversa has been relieved of his duties. Thanks to the coach and his staff for their work”, says a brief statement from the club on X.

The end of the Lecce-Hellas Verona match had given way to total confusion, with several incidents breaking out between members of the two soccer clubs. According to AFP, D’Aversa walked up to Thomas Henry and headbutted him, just as the striker appeared to be heading for the dressing room. Both men were subsequently shown a red card.

Roberto D’Aversa disputed the narrative that led to his firing and has since apologized on his social networks while denying that he headbutted Henry.

“I would like to apologize to everyone and, at the same time, return briefly to the sad and unpleasant episode in which I played a negative role at the end of the Lecce-Verona match. I came into direct contact with Henry, but I didn’t headbutt the Verona player, nor did I receive one from him. It was physical contact, a very bad example, an unsportsmanlike image born of great tension and adrenaline, but that must not and will not be my excuse. I was wrong and I apologize. I got carried away and lost my lucidity, but not to the point of hitting another person. I don’t own it, I reject it and I don’t accept it. Once again, I apologize to Henry, to the fans of Lecce, Verona and Italy, to the referees, to both clubs, to my management, my staff and my team.”

Frenchman Thomas Henry also spoke out on his social networks after the incident, saying he was very certain he’d been at the receiving end of a headbutt. “Nothing justifies and will NEVER justify receiving a headbutt when you’re on your way to the changing room. Happy to have pocketed the three points of victory. “

In a statement issued in the wake of the incident, Lecce “strongly condemned [their] coach ‘s gesture, which is contrary to our principles and the values of sport.” The 48-year-old coach took over at Lecce in June 2023. His contract ran until June 30, 2024.

The Pugliese club is currently in 15th place, fighting for survival. Seven clubs are within three points of each other.

This post is originally from L’Équipe