Portanova to Bari: convicted of rape, fans say no

After the six-year sentence in the first instance, Genoa no longer used him. The midfielder can now return to the field, amidst many doubts

The Genoa fans had taken it very badly, those of Bari seem to be of the same idea. Market news is not like all the others and the discussion it triggers is very profound. At the center of it all is Manolo Portanova, the midfielder sentenced to six years in prison for gang sexual assault. Since the day of the sentence – he was on December 6 – he hasn’t played anymore, even though in theory he could have done it, being in a state of freedom. The FIGC prosecutor has opened a file on him to assess whether there were grounds for disqualifying him on the basis of art. 4 of the Sports Justice Code (respect for the principles of correctness and loyalty of members), but there was no follow-up. In the meantime, Genoa wanted to summon him, but the fans opposed it. Portanova continued to train and decided with the club that it would be better for a change of scenery. Thus was born the possibility of going to Bari, available to welcome him on loan for six months: an operation that started well and which should be made official today. Conditional mandatory, given that the climate around him hasn’t changed: as soon as the rumor of the transfer circulated, even the Bari fans expressed their disapproval on social media.

The conviction followed an episode in 2021, when Portanova and other people allegedly abused a girl in Siena. After more than a month under house arrest, the precautionary measure had been revoked and the player was able to retire with Genoa to begin the Serie A season, which ended with 24 appearances. This season Alexander Blessin has fielded him 12 times (one goal), until the December sentence, which arrived – ironically – on the day of San Nicola, the patron saint of Bari. Genoa could have used him anyway, being a judgment of first instance which must be judged on appeal. But three days later, on the occasion of the match against Südtirol in Marassi, the controversies changed the club’s mind, which called him up but then preferred to keep him in the stands. As happened afterwards.

The crime for which Portanova was convicted in the first instance is very serious, oblivion seemed the most appropriate choice. Which certainly calmed the climate around him. However, Bari wanted to focus on the player, on the athlete, who would unquestionably be an added value for Michele Mignani’s team. And he wanted to give him this chance, deciding to hire him to put him back on the field for these six months and then bring him back to the parent company in the summer. But was that really the case? Of course, until the sentence is final, it is right to have respect for a 22-year-old boy and let him do his job. But given the delicacy of the problem and the type of crime for which he was sentenced to six years, perhaps it would have been better to leave him in the shadows and focus on someone else.