Italian soccer manager fired after he appeared to headbutt player on opposing club

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An Italian soccer manager was fired on Monday after he appeared to headbutt a player on his club’s opponent at the end of Sunday’s match.

Lecce sacked Roberto D’Aversa after the incident during the club’s Serie A loss to Hellas Verona. The action came following a spat between Verona striker Thomas Henry and Lecce defender Marin Pongracic after the final whistle blew.

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Roberto D'Aversa confronts Thomas Henry

Roberto D’Aversa of US Lecce and player Thomas Henry of Hellas Verona argue during the Serie A match. (Donato Fasano/Getty Images)

D’Aversa came over to Henry to intervene. However, he was seen headbutting Henry in front of the officials.

“After what happened at the end of the Lecce-Verona match, Lecce announces that it has relieved coach Roberto D’Aversa of his duties,” Lecce said in a statement. “Thanks go to the coach and his staff for the work carried out.”

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D’Aversa explained his actions in an interview with Sky Sports.

“I went on to the pitch to try and stop my players being sent off as Verona were provoking us a lot in the final moments of the match and after the final whistle,” he said.

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Roberto D'Aversa coaches

Roberto D’Aversa overseeing the Serie A match between US Lecce and Hellas Verona FC in Lecce, Italy, on March 10, 2024. (Gabriele Maricchiolo/NurPhoto via Getty Images))

“It wasn’t a nice thing to do, I know that. It’s inexcusable, and I’ve been to explain my actions to Verona. I didn’t come on the pitch to do that.”

He claimed on Instagram he didn’t headbutt the player.

Lecce and Verona are in the middle of a tight race to avoid relegation. Lecee has 25 points on the season and only one up on Frosinone and two up on Sassuolo. Verona has 26 points after their win.

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Roberto D'Aversa in March 2024

Lecce’s head coach Roberto D’Aversa reacts during the Serie A soccer match against Frosinone at the Stadio Benito Stirpe stadium in Frosinone, Italy, on March 3, 2024. (Fabrizio Corradetti/LaPresse via AP, File)

D’Aversa was named manager in June.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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