Football: Moratti quits Inter

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INTERNAZIONALE, the Italian Serie A club who have suffered a series of blows this season, were shaken by a fresh crisis last night when their president and owner, Massimo Moratti, announced he was quitting.

Moratti said his resignation as president took immediate effect, although it was unclear whether he would be retaining his 70 per cent stake in the club. The move comes less than two weeks after he surprised Italian football by bringing back Roy Hodgson to become the team's fourth coach of a disastrous season.

A club statement said: "Massimo Moratti has presented his resignation which takes immediate effect. Massimo Moratti thanks the fans for their affection and the confidence they have always had in him. The same thanks goes to the players who have played for the club these past few years, for their courage and the sacrifices made in always honouring Inter's colours."

Moratti, who has spent a fortune in trying to recreate his father Angelo's European Cup-winning "Grande Inter" of 1964 and 1965, had come under increasing pressure in recent months following their disastrous season. "The Error of Moratti," declared a front page editorial headline in La Republica newspaper in March after a 4-0 loss at Sampdoria had prompted the Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu to quit.

In his five years at Inter, Moratti went through six coaches, as many as Angelo had in the 1960s before finally settling on Helenio Herrera whose defensive catenaccio tactics took Inter to two European Cup triumphs.

Inter are in eighth place in Serie A and in danger of missing out on European competition next season. They have also been hampered by a long- term injury to their Brazilian striker Ronaldo.

Recently the club turned to Roy Hodgson, who they dismissed two seasons ago, until the former Juventus coach Marcello Lippi takes over at the end of the season.

Real Madrid yesterday intervened in the war of words between their coach, John Toshack, and Croatian striker, Davor Suker, when they suspended the player without pay. The club took the action after the 31-year-old player, who won the Golden Boot award for finishing leading scorer in last summer's World Cup finals, accused Toshack of wrecking the image of the seven-time European Cup winners.