ROME, Dec 31 (Reuters) - The sporting director of Sicilian Serie A side Palermo has received a Mafia-style warning after a run of poor results - a severed goat's head in the post.
The gory gift, reminiscent of the horse's head in the 1972 film The Godfather, arrived wrapped at the home of Rino Foschi on Christmas Eve.
'My first thought was that it was a joke, but it gave my wife a terrible fright. She fainted when she opened the box,' Foschi was quoted as saying in La Gazzetta dello Sport on Sunday.
'I've been living in Palermo for five years and I've never received threats before.
'The people here have always liked me. I feel protected. I sleep easy. I don't think I've got anything to fear.'
Palermo seemed like possible contenders for the Serie A title at the start of the season, but have lost three times and drawn twice in their last seven games to slip back to third, 13 points behind leaders Inter Milan.
Club president Maurizio Zamparini described the goat's head as 'an ugly gesture that offends the city as well as the squad.'
It is not the first time Italian fans have chosen to make their discontent plain in such a macabre fashion.
In 1999, the president of Reggina, then struggling against relegation, received a bull's head in the post along with a threatening letter and a demand for £2.75million.