Sampdoria fail in bid to kick out Cassano

MILAN - Sampdoria have no right to rip up Antonio Cassano's contract just because the combustible Italy forward verbally abused the club president, a Serie A arbitration panel ruled on Thursday.

The player, suspended and threatened with explusion by the club since late October, must instead accept a 50 percent reduction in salary and can re-enter the Samp squad early next year," panel chairman Paolo Giuggioli told Reuters.

Despite the ruling meaning he cannot walk away for free, Cassano seems almost certain to be sold in the January transfer window given his relationship with the club has broken down.

Juventus, Lazio, Parma and Genoa are among the clubs to say they are not interested in taking the 28-year-old but Serie A leaders AC Milan have made no comment and want a new striker.

Faltering champions Inter Milan, often linked with the former Real Madrid man in the past, look less likely to bid.

"At the moment the idea of Cassano coming to Inter doesn't have any legs," president Massimo Moratti told reporters in UAE.

Colourful Cassano, often in trouble in the past for numerous antics before appearing to have matured, let fly with foul-mouthed rant at owner Riccardo Garrone in October when he refused to attend a dinner and the team have struggled since.

A series of hearing with Samp players called as witnesses have tried to resolve the dispute, with Samp asking for his contract to be voided but Cassano's lawyers arguing he has been unfairly treated given he has apologised and wants to stay.

The ex-AS Roma forward, a key part of Cesare Prandelli's new-look Italy having been snubbed by former coach Marcelo Lippi because of his attitute problems, missed the friendly draw against Romania last month given his lack of match fitness.

The case is the opposite of last term's Goran Pandev affair where the striker took Lazio to arbitration having been dropped for demanding a transfer and won a free tranfer to Inter.

Italy's World Cup goalkeeper Federico Marchetti, who has not played a competitive game since the Azzurri's exit in South Africa in June, has also taken Cagliari to arbitration after being dropped for the same reasons as Pandev.

His case continues to drag on with no resolution.

The propensity for Serie A club presidents to drop players because of disagreements was a major reason why top-flight players were planning to strike for last weekend's matches before a late deal with the league averted the action.