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SBD Global/September 6, 2012/International Football

Del Piero Joins Sydney FC As Australia's 'Biggest' Football Import

Alessandro Del Piero meets the press during a news conference in Turin, Italy.
Italian Alessandro Del Piero has signed with A-League Sydney FC to become "the highest-paid footballer of any code to play in Australia," according to Sebastian Hassett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The two-year, A$2M-a-season deal was confirmed when Del Piero "appeared at a press conference" beside Sydney CEO Tony Pignata in Turin's Principi Hotel. The club said that a deal "had been agreed last Friday, only for all parties to cool on that talk at the weekend, insisting there was more work to be done" before the contract was signed. The deal was finally completed around 8pm Wednesday night, Sydney time. Del Piero said, ''For the next two years, I am Australian, so to speak." (SMH, 9/6). In Sydney, Ray Gatt noted that the Italian media reported Liverpool FC had made "a late bid to sign" Del Piero, though the Reds described that as "nonsense." Del Piero had also been linked with Celtic, Tottenham, Southampton, Sion and Sporting Braga. Sydney Chair Scott Barlow said that the club was "over the moon." Barlow: "This signing is a major coup for Sydney FC and marks a historic day for football in this country. This is for all Australian football fans." Australian player agent and promoter Lou Sticca, who was "heavily involved in the negotiations," said that the signing would take the A-League "to great heights." Sticca said, "This could be a game changer" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/6).

SETTING PRECEDENT: BLOOMBERG's Dan Baynes reported that Sydney has been "a pioneer in bringing high-profile players" to the A-League, which replaced the National Soccer League as Australia’s flagship competition seven years ago. Former Australia and AC Milan goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac said in an interview with Fox Sports News, “This is the biggest signing that Australian football will ever see. This is exactly like David Beckham going to America. Alessandro Del Piero is our David Beckham” (BLOOMBERG, 9/5).
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