Venezia Football Club, commonly referred to as Venezia FC or simply Venezia, is a professional football club based in Venice, Italy, that currently plays in Serie A, the first tier of Italian football, following promotion via playoffs from the 2020–21 season.
|Full name||Venezia Football Club S.r.l.|
|Nickname(s)||I Leoni ałati (The Winged Lions)|
I Lagunari (The Lagoonal Ones)
Gli Arancioneroverdi (The Orange-Black-Greens)
|Founded||1907, as Venezia Foot Ball Club|
2005 , as Società Sportiva Calcio Venezia
2009 , as Foot Ball Club Unione Venezia
2015 , as Venezia FC
|Ground||Stadio Pierluigi Penzo|
Sant'Elena, Venice, Italy
|Chairman||Duncan L. Niederauer|
|2020–21||Serie B, 5th of 20 (promoted via play-offs)|
Originally founded as Venezia Foot Ball Club in 1907, Venezia have spent a large part of their history in Italy's top two divisions.
Venezia's Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo first opened in 1913 and takes its name from World War I pilot Pier Luigi Penzo. Stadio Penzo is the second-oldest stadium in Italy, after Genoa's Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Originally constructed from wood, the stadium was largely upgraded with a concrete main stand in the 1920s and further improvements were made in the decades that followed.
On September 11, 1970 a tornado hit Venice and caused extensive damage to the stadium. The stadium was only partially reinstated, with the capacity reduced to just over 5,000.
When the club rose back up to Serie A in 1998, additional makeshift stands were added, bringing capacity back up to 13,400, but it has since been reduced again to the current capacity of 7,450.
Foundation and early years
Venezia Foot Ball Club was founded on 14 December 1907 in Venice by about 20 enthusiasts through the merger of the football sections of two Venetian sports clubs: the Martial Gymnastics Society and Costantino Reyer. The place chosen by the founders to give life to the new football club was the restaurant "Da Nane in Corte dell'Orso" near Campo San Bortolomio. Among the founders were Davide Fano, the first president; Walter Aemisseger, from Swiss club FC Winterthur, the first coach and captain; Guido Battisti; Antonio Borella; Gerardo Bortoletti; ; Aldo Federici, known as "Baciccia"; Pietro Golzio, known as "Pioppa"; Silvio Lorenzetti, Pietro Piccoli; Primo Pitteri; Alessandro Santi; Marcello Santi; Luigi Vianello; Pietro Visintin; and Mario Vivante.
In its early years, the club's matches were played in the pine forest of Sant'Elena. Venezia's first matches were played against the Veneto teams of Padova, Verona, and Vicenza, as well as against the crews of the ships arriving at the port of Venice. Venezia's first match was played on December 22, 1907 against Vicenza, ending 1–1.
Venezia participated in Italy's top division for the first time in the 1909 Italian Football Championship. As the only Veneto club, Venezia were directly admitted to the semifinals against the winners of the Lombardia group, US Milanese, and lost the first leg 7–1 and the return leg 11–2.
On 7 September 1913, Campo Sportivo Comunale di Sant’Elena, the Venetian stadium on the island of Sant'Elena, later to be named Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo, was opened, complete with a covered grandstand for more than 500 spectators. Venezia lost the inaugural match to Genoa, 0–7.
In the 1914–15 season, Venezia qualified for the semifinals, and finished fourth in Group A, before the season was suspended due to the war.
1919 to 1939
In April 1919, at Palazzo Gritti-Faccanon, in the then headquarters of Il Gazzettino, the members of Venezia F.B.C. and the Aurora F.B.C., a minor lagoon club, decided to join forces and rename the club as Associazione Calcio Venezia. On the occasion, the government contributed to the relaunch of the lagoon club with an extraordinary contribution of 40,000 lire, as compensation for having used the sports field as a military base.
In the 1921–22 season, Venezia were relegated to the Seconda Divisione. Venezia returned to the Prima Divisione in the 1926–27 season, however, following the creation of the Divisione Nazionale as the new top flight, the Prima Divisione had become the second level of Italian football.
In the 1927–28 Prima Divisione season, Venezia finished second in Group A behind Atalanta, and were automatically admitted to the Divisione Nazionale by resolution of the Italian Football Federation, which expanded the league to 32 clubs, with two groups of 16 clubs each.
In the summer of 1930, Venezia was renamed Società Sportiva Serenissima, and the club colors were also changed with the adoption of the red of the Flag of the Republic of Venice, while the Lion of Saint Mark was placed on the chest.
After five consecutive seasons in Serie B since 1929–30, S.S. Serenissima finished last in Group B in the 1933–34 Serie B season and were set for relegation, but they would keep their place in the league as a result of an expansion from 26 to 32 teams for the following season.
AC Venezia and promotion to Serie A
On 1 August 1934, the club returned to its former name Associazione Calcio Venezia (albeit with the addition, inevitable at the time, of the adjective Fascista) and its traditional neroverde (black and green) colors.
In the 1934–35 Serie B season, Venezia finished tied for 11th and were relegated to the nascent Serie C. But Venezia's stay in Serie C would be short, as they finished top of the table in the 1935–36 season and earned direct promotion back to Serie B. Venezia also reached the Round of 32 of the 1935–36 Coppa Italia, defeating Padova, Fiumana (now Rijeka), and Pistoiese, before being eliminated by S.S. Lazio, 2–0. The strong point of that team was the mediana di ferro (iron median) of Armando Varini, Aldo Biffi, and Attilo Kossovel.
The following season, Venezia reached the Round of 16 of the 1936–37 Coppa Italia, losing to A.C. Milan, 2–0, and survived a relegation tie-breaker with Pro Vercelli, Messina, and Catania in the 1936-37 Serie B season to keep their place in the league.
In 1937, with the emergence of Arnaldo Bennati as club president, Venezia began a period of ascent. In the 1937–38 Serie B season, Venezia finished 8th in the table, and Bennati would bring in some important players including Víctor Tortora and Giovanni Alberti.
In the 1938–39 Serie B season, Venezia finished second and earned promotion to Serie A, which was achieved in dramatic fashion by defeating Atalanta in Bergamo, 0–1, on the last day of the season and overtaking them for second place despite being tied on points due to a better goal ratio. The winning goal, coming in front of 5,000 Venezia fans, was scored by Francesco Pernigo, who is still Venezia's all-time leading scorer (45) in Serie A. Venezia's manager was Giuseppe Girani.
Venezia's rise to Serie A prompted a new renovation of Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo, with capacity increased from 10,000 to 22,000 after expansion of the existing stands.
1939 to 1968
Upon returning to Serie A after a 12-year absence, the Venezia squad was strengthened, with the arrival of players including Luigi Busidoni, Silvio Di Gennaro, Sergio Stefanini, and, most importantly, Valentino Mazzola. Mazzola was in Venice for military service, and after having showcased himself playing with military representatives in Campo dei Bacini, Venezia took him on trial and then bought him from Serie C club Alfa Romeo Milano. In the 1939–40 Serie A season, Venezia finished 10th in the table — highlighted by a win over eventual champions Ambrosiana Inter in Venice — and took a step towards the two most successful seasons in the club's history.
In 1940, Venezia hired Giovanni Battista Rebuffo as manager and further strengthened the squad with the arrival of Ezio Loik from A.C. Milan, who would form a famous partnership with Valentino Mazzola in Venice. Although they would finish a modest 12th in the 1940–41 Serie A season, Venezia would go on to win the 1940–41 Coppa Italia — the club's first major trophy. Venezia defeated MU Borzacchini in the Round of 32, Udinese in the Round of 16, Bologna in the quarterfinals, and S.S. Lazio in the semifinals, meeting A.S. Roma in the final. After a 3–3 draw in Rome, Venezia won the return leg at Stadio Penzo, 1–0, on a goal from Loik.
The following year, Venezia would make a run for the Scudetto. In the 1941–42 Serie A season, the Loik-Mazzola duo was outstanding, while Francesco Pernigo would score 12 league goals. A few rounds from the end of the season, Venezia faced Roma in a critical match at Stadio Penzo, but Venezia would lose after missing a penalty, and Roma would go on to win the championship on 42 points, with Torino second on 39 points and Venezia third on 38 points. The third-place finish remains Venezia's best-ever result in Serie A. In the 1941–42 Coppa Italia, Venezia defeated Torino in the Round of 32, Pisa in the Round of 16, and Bologna in the quarterfinals, but would lose to A.C. Milan in the semifinals, 2–1.
In the summer of 1942, Venezia sold Loik and Mazzola to Torino, for the then exorbitant figure of 1,200,000 lira. Venezia would struggle in the 1942–43 Serie A season, finishing 14th in the table and needing to defeat Bari in a relegation tie-breaker to remain in Serie A. But in the 1942–43 Coppa Italia, Venezia would reach their second final in three years. In the final, Venezia would lose to Torino, 4–0, with Mazzola scoring against his former club.
After the 1942–43 season, football competitions in Italy were suspended due to World War II.
After World War II, Venezia reestablished its name as Associazione Calcio Venezia.
In Italy, national football resumed with the 1945–46 Italian Football Championship, and Venezia struggled, finishing 13th in the table. Serie A was restored in the 1946–47 season, and despite the 13 goals by Valeriano Ottino (the most goals in a Serie A season by a Venezia player) Venezia were relegated to Serie B. At the same time, Arnaldo Bennati would leave the presidency. Following the highest point in the club's history, a period of uncertainty began.
After finishing in fourth in Serie B in the 1947–48 season, sporting director Giuseppe Girani and manager Mario Villini led Venezia to promotion back to Serie A in the 1944–49 season, finishing second, just one point ahead of Vicenza.
But Venezia faced serious financial uncertainty, to the point that in the 1949–50 Serie A season the club was chaired by a local council. Venezia were forced to sell goalscorer Adriano Zecca to Roma, and did not have the quality to compete in the top flight, finishing last with only 16 points. In the summer of 1950, Mario Renosto was sold to A.C. Milan, and he immediately won the Scudetto with the rossoneri the following season.
In the 1951–52 season, Venezia would be relegated to Serie C, and they would spend four seasons in the third tier, before earning promotion back to Serie B in the 1956–57 season under manager Carlo Alberto Quario.
Despite still playing in Serie B, Venezia would make an impressive run in the 1958–59 Coppa Italia, eliminating Roma and Torino on their way to the semifinals, where they would lose to Inter, and then lose a third place match with Genoa. At the end of the season, manager Carlo Alberto Quario would leave the bench, and Venezia would narrowly avoid another relegation to Serie C in the 1959-60 season, surviving a relegation tie-breaker with Monza and Taranto.
In the 1960–61 Serie B season, entrepreneur Anacleto Ligabue took over as extraordinary commissioner of the club, and he immediately recalled Carlo Alberto Quario to the bench. It would be a winning move, as Venezia finished top of the table, and returned to Serie A after an 11-year absence. The promotion-winning team featured the young Venetian Gianni Rossi plus new arrivals Virginio De Paoli, Sergio Frascoli, Gianni Grossi, and striker Luigi Raffin, who scored 17 goals during the year. The triumph was celebrated with a procession of gondolas escorting the bissona Serenissima, the traditional Venetian ship, carrying the players from Stadio Penzo to Piazza San Marco.
On Venezia's return to Serie A in the 1961–62 season, Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata became club president, with Ligabue and Enrico Linetti as his deputies. Although the team got off to a slow start, Venezia would ultimately put together a respectable campaign, earning wins over Juventus and A.C. Milan, and finishing 12th in the table. The team featured midfielder Juan Santisteban who had arrived from Real Madrid, while Raffin would score 11 goals during the season.
But in the 1962–63 Serie A season, Venezia finished 17th in the table and were again relegated to Serie B. At the end of the season, there would be several departures, including Carlo Alberto Quario and Gino Raffin, who had scored 39 goals in total in the previous three seasons.
After three seasons in Serie B, Venezia earned promotion to Serie A once again, finishing first in the 1965–66 Serie B season. But in the 1966–67 Serie A season, Venezia were directly relegated back to Serie B, and they would not see the top flight again for more than 30 years. In the following 1967–68 Serie B season, Venezia would be relegated to Serie C.
1968 to 1986
1987 to 2005
Maurizio Zamparini arrival and merger with Mestre
Ahead of the 1986–87 season, Venezia was acquired by businessman Maurizio Zamparini, who would lead the club for the next 16 seasons.
After his first season in charge, Zamparini would merge Venezia with mainland club A.C. Mestre, who were also playing in Serie C2. The merger was executed on 26 June 1987. Zamparini temporarily changed the name of the club to Calcio VeneziaMestre, though the club would be renamed Associazione Calcio Venezia in November 1989. With the merger, the club's colors changed from neroverde (green-black) to arancioneroverde (orange-black-green). Further, the team's home matches were moved from Stadio Penzo in Venice to Stadio Francesco Baracca in Mestre.
Over the next two seasons, the team — featuring players including Andrea Poggi, Giancarlo Filippini, and a young Paolo Poggi — steadily improved, and built towards a return to Serie B.
Return to Serie B
In the 1990–91 season, Venezia, under manager Alberto Zaccheroni, earned promotion back to Serie B after a 23-year absence. In a playoff for second place, Venezia defeated Como, 2–1, with 7,000 fans from Venice and Mestre attending the match in Cesena.
Due to the insufficient capacity at Stadio Baracca in Mestre for Serie B, Venezia would move back to Stadio Penzo in Venice, renovating and expanding the stadium, with the elimination of the athletics track.
Venezia would spent the next seven seasons in Serie B, before finally achieving promotion.
Return to Serie A
Ahead of the 1998–99 Serie A season, sporting director Beppe Marotta would strengthen the team, including the double signing of striker Filippo Maniero and goalkeeper Massimo Taibi from A.C. Milan. Through the first half of the season, though, Venezia were bottom of the table, and Maniero hadn't scored a goal. But a turning point came in January with the arrival of young playmaker Álvaro Recoba on loan from Inter Milan. Maniero and Recoba would form a prolific partnership in attack, scoring 23 goals between them in the second half of the season — Maniero with 12, Recoba with 11 — and gradually pulling Venezia out of the relegation zone. In the penultimate week of the season, Venezia needed a win against Recoba's parent club Inter to preserve their Serie A status, and Recoba contributed a goal and an assist in a 3–1 win, as Venezia completed the comeback and finished in 11th place, four points above the relegation zone.
Going into the 1999–2000 Serie A season, Venezia replaced Novellino with Luciano Spalletti. But without Recoba, Venezia would struggle. During the campaign, they would go through three coaches — Spalletti was sacked in the fall, then recalled after Giuseppe Materazzi lasted just 27 days, until Francesco Oddo was hired in February. Venezia would make a run in the 1999–2000 Coppa Italia, eliminating Udinese and Fiorentina among others on their way to the semifinals, where they were finally beaten by Lazio, but that form wouldn't carry over to league play. Venezia ultimately finished 16th and were relegated to Serie B.
For the 2000–01 Serie B season, Venezia hired manager Cesare Prandelli, and he would lead Venezia right back to Serie A. But it wouldn't last, as Prandelli was let go early into the 2001–02 Serie A season, and Venezia would go on to finish last and suffer its second relegation in three years.
Zamparini exit, relegation, and bankruptcy
On July 21, 2002, Zamparini left Venezia and took over Palermo. The following day, in a move called the furto di Pergine — the "theft of Pergine" — Zamparini has 12 players plus manager Ezio Glerean withdrawn by bus from Venezia's preseason camp in Pergine Valsugana and taken to Palermo's preseason camp in Longarone. In the mass transfer, Palermo took goalkeeper Generoso Rossi, defenders Fabio Bilica, Kewullay Conteh and Francesco Modesto, midfielders Valentino Lai, Antonio Marasco, Stefano Morrone, Frank Olivier Ongfiang, Mario Santana and Evans Soligo (later returned to Venice), and strikers Arturo Di Napoli and Filippo Maniero. A few days later, striker Igor Budan and the sporting director Rino Foschi also moved from Venezia to Palermo.
Venezia finished 15th in the 2002–03 Serie B season, then 20th in the 2003–04 Serie B season, surviving a relegation playoff by defeating Bari, 2–1 on aggregate. But the club's financial situation could not be saved.
At the end of the 2004–05 Serie B season, Venezia was relegated and declared bankrupt.
2005 to 2015
Società Sportiva Calcio Venezia
In the summer of 2005, the club was re-founded as Società Sportiva Calcio Venezia and was admitted to Serie C2 by Lodo Petrucci. In the 2005–06 Serie C2 season, Venezia earned promotion to Serie C1, and would spend the next three seasons in the third tier, but the club would be declared bankrupt once again by the end of the 2008–09 season.
Foot Ball Club Unione Venezia
In the summer of 2009, with Venice in danger of being a city without a football club, mayor Massimo Cacciari personally supervised the foundation of a new club. On July 27, 2009, the club was re-founded as Foot Ball Club Unione Venezia, recognized as the legitimate successor of SSC Venezia, and was admitted to Serie D. Venezia won Serie D in the 2011–12 season and earned promotion from Lega Pro Seconda Divisione to Lega Pro Prima Divisione in the 2012–13 season, but would last just two seasons in the third tier before going bankrupt for the third time in 10 years.
2015 to Present
In September 2015, a group of American investors moved to acquire the club out of bankruptcy, and re-founded the club as Venezia FC. In the 2015–16 season, Venezia earned promotion from Serie D to Serie C.
Filippo Inzaghi tenure
In Inzaghi's second season, the 2017–18 Serie B season, Venezia finished fifth in the table — the club's highest Serie B finish since finishing fourth in the 2000–01 season, when they were last promoted to Serie A — and reached the semifinals of the Serie B promotion playoffs, losing to Palermo, 2-1.
In June 2018, Inzaghi decided to leave Venezia, and he would later join Bologna.
Joe Tacopina exit
After Inzaghi’s departure, Venezia went through three coaches in the 2018–19 Serie B season — Stefano Vecchi, Walter Zenga, and Serse Cosmi — and finished 15th in the table. After losing the Serie B relegation play-out to Salernitana, Venezia were set for relegation to Serie C, but they were ultimately spared when Palermo were punished with relegation due to "administrative non-compliance."
Ahead of the 2019–20 Serie B season, Venezia hired Alessio Dionisi as manager. In February 2020, with the team in another relegation battle, Venezia was recapitalized and the club's ownership removed Joe Tacopina as club president.
VFC Newco and Duncan Niederauer
Upon the club’s reorganization, Venezia owner Duncan Niederauer, former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, took on the role of club president. The following month, the 2019–20 Serie B season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, but would resume in June. When the season resumed, Venezia would lose just two of their final 10 matches, and defeated Perugia on the final day of the season to remain in Serie B, finishing 11th in the league table, five points clear of the relegation play-out.
Return to Serie A
In August 2020, Venezia rebuilt its technical staff, hiring former long-time Venezia players and local Venetians Mattia Collauto and Paolo Poggi as sporting director and technical director, respectively,, a young American Alex Menta as analytics director, and Vicenza-born Paolo Zanetti as manager.
In the 2020–21 Serie B season, Venezia finished fifth in the table, and went on to win the promotion playoffs, earning a return to Serie A for the first time since the 2001–02 Serie A season. In the promotion playoffs, Venezia defeated Chievo Verona in the opening round, Lecce in the semifinals, and A.S. Cittadella in the final.
- As of 11 June 2021
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Colours, badge and nicknames
Originally Venezia's colours were blue and red and the shirt features halves in those colours, the kit was very similar to that of Genoa. However just a year after the club founded, it changed colours to black and green in 1908.
Much later, in 1987 when the club merged with a local side Associazione Calcio Mestre from Mestre who wore orange and black, orange would also become one of Venezia's official colours, giving them the nickname arancioneroverdi ("orange-black-greens"). Venezia's colours and kit are very distinctive; the shirt, shorts and socks are usually black with the shirt having a green and orange trim.
The symbol of the Venetian club is a winged-lion (see Lion of Venice), commonly mistaken for a griffin. The golden winged-lion is the official symbol carried by the city of province of Venice; the symbol has led to one of the club's most popular nicknames in the form of leoni alati ("winged-lions").
As the club has been renamed numerous times during its history, the badge has also changed several times; the most common one features the golden winged lion, along with the green and orange club colours with a golden border. As the city of Venice is situated on the Venetian Lagoon, the club is also nicknamed lagunari ("Lagoonal ones").
- Winners: 1940–41
- Winners: 2016–17
- Champions: 2005–06
- Runners-up: 1987–88
- Champions: 1982–83, 2011–12
- Runners-up: 1978–79
|A||13||2021–22||-||6 (1947, 1950, 1963, 1967, 2000, 2002)|
|B||37||2020–21||6 (1939, 1949, 1961, 1966, 1998, 2001, 2021)||4 (1935, 1952, 1968, 2005✟)|
|2016–17|| 4 (1936, 1956, 1991, 2017)|
3 (1988 C2, 2006 C2, 2013 C2)
|4 (1977, 1982, 2009✟, 2015✟)|
|82 out of 89 years of professional football in Italy since 1929|
|D||7||2015–16||4 (1979, 1983, 2012, 2016)||Never|
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