Lecce coach Roberto D’Aversa fired after appearing to head butt a player

FILE - Lecce's head coach Roberto D'Aversa reacts during the Serie A soccer match between Frosinone and Lecce at the Stadio Benito Stirpe stadium in Frosinone, Italy, on March 3, 2024. D’Aversa head butted Hellas Verona striker Thomas Henry following a heated matchup between two teams just above the relegation zone in Serie A on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (Fabrizio Corradetti/LaPresse via AP, File)

FILE – Lecce’s head coach Roberto D’Aversa reacts during the Serie A soccer match between Frosinone and Lecce at the Stadio Benito Stirpe stadium in Frosinone, Italy, on March 3, 2024. D’Aversa head butted Hellas Verona striker Thomas Henry following a heated matchup between two teams just above the relegation zone in Serie A on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (Fabrizio Corradetti/LaPresse via AP, File)

LECCE, Italy (AP) — Lecce coach Roberto D’Aversa was fired on Monday after having appeared to head butt a player.

The incident happened at the end of Sunday’s 1-0 home loss to fellow struggler Hellas Verona.

Verona striker Thomas Henry was arguing with Lecce defender Marin Pongracic after the final whistle when D’Aversa went over to intervene, but instead ended up knocking Henry over with an apparent head butt directly in front of one of the match officials.

“After what happened at the end of the Lecce-Verona match, Lecce announces that it has relieved coach Roberto D’Aversa of his duties,” the Serie A club said in a statement. “Thanks go to the coach and his staff for the work carried out.”

Replays appeared to show that it was indeed a head butt but D’Aversa — who also apologised — later said on Instagram that it wasn’t.

Both D’Aversa and Henry were sent off.

The 48-year-old D’Aversa, who had previously coached Parma and Sampdoria, had been in charge of Lecce since June. After an impressive start to the season, where it was undefeated after five matches, Lecce sits just a point above the relegation zone.

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