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Feb 24, 2014

Claudio Lotito refuses to sell Lazio

Lazio president Claudio Lotito has insisted he will not step down in spite of fierce protests during a 3-2 win over Sassuolo in Serie A on Sunday night.

Supporters hold up
Supporters hold up "Free Lazio" signs during the victory over Sassuolo.

The Biancoceleste president remains defiant in the face of criticism from the club's fans, having faced opposition from the stands for years and been the subject of death threats. On Sunday, "Free Lazio" was emblazoned on thousands of cards held aloft by the Lazio supporters after a march to the stadium involving an estimated 5,000 supporters.

An increase of around 10,000 on the club's average gate for the season was registered as part of an organised initiative to remove Lotito, but he was unmoved by their protests.

"People are asking me to sell Lazio, but they all know I have no intention of doing so," he told Sky television. "I'm going to leave the club to my son. I'm not concerned in the slightest. I'm happy to hear constructive criticism. In 2004, I put in approximately 150 billion old lira (75 million euros) and took on debts of 1,070 billion lira (500 million euros).

"I've fitted the club out with its own TV and radio station, I've renovated all of Formello [training facility], and the club now have the highest-ranked youth academy in the country. We've won two Coppa Italias, one unforgettable one which will go down in history, and, finally, one Supercoppa."

That success, including last year's Coppa Italia victory over city rivals Roma, does not appear to have done enough to calm the fans' anger at a man they continue to blame for the club's ills.

The sale of Hernanes to Inter Milan during the winter transfer window, after a disappointing first half to the season, proved to be the final straw, with Sunday's protests organised to show Lotito how much ill feeling there is among the club's fans.

"The club cannot be broken up, and that's the message I give to those who want me to sell," Lotito added.

Lazio are currently 10th in Serie A, level on points with AC Milan.

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