New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso buys Italian club ACF Fiorentina
NEW YORK – ACF Fiorentina announced today that New York Cosmos owner Rocco B. Commisso has purchased the legendary soccer club founded in 1926. The deal was closed today in Milan.
“As a lifelong follower of Italian soccer, words cannot describe how incredibly honored I am to be part of writing the next chapter in Fiorentina’s storied history,” stated Commisso. “Florence is known throughout the world for representing the very best of Italy’s culture. During my three-year pursuit of this club, I gained a tremendous appreciation for how important La Viola is to the city and its loyal fans.”
“I would like to thank the Della Valle family for their stewardship of Fiorentina for the past 17 years,” Commisso said. “Diego and Andrea deserve high praise for rescuing this organization from financial ruin. They leave behind a solid foundation upon which to build the club.”
Diego and Andrea Della Valle said: “A new chapter begins for the Viola team that we hope will bring many successful seasons, especially for the respectable supporters and the city of Florence to which we will always remain emotionally attached. In assessing the various offers received, we did not prioritize economic benefits, took in great consideration Rocco Commisso’s expertise and competence in soccer and ultimately accepted his offer as we believe it provides the most solid and passionate future to the Viola. A great “good luck” to Rocco and those who will follow him in this adventure. It’s with great gratitude that we salute all the people who have worked with us in the last 17 years and have given their best for the Viola jersey.”
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Chiomenti acted as financial and legal advisors respectively for the buyer; Credit Suisse and Bonelli Erede acted as financial and legal advisors for the sellers.
Commisso is the Chairman and CEO of Mediacom Communications Corporation, a company he founded in 1995 to acquire and reinvigorate cable systems in underserved communities across the United States. In 2000, he directed a successful initial public offering for Mediacom, paving the way for the company’s dramatic growth into America’s 5th largest cable television provider, with over 4,500 employees serving nearly 1.4 million customers in 22 states. He took the company private in 2011, and now Mediacom, with annual revenues of nearly $2 billion, is wholly-owned by Commisso and his family.
In January 2017, Commisso purchased a majority ownership stake in the New York Cosmos and became the club’s Chairman. The Cosmos are the most recognized American soccer brand in the world. Since beginning play at Yankee Stadium in 1971, the iconic club has won a record total of eight professional soccer championships and brought some of the biggest stars in international soccer to the USA including Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia, Carlos Alberto, Johan Neeskens and more recently, Raúl and Marcos Senna.
Commisso’s more than 60-year association with the game of soccer began on the sandy beaches and concrete streets of his hometown of Marina di Gioiosa Ionica in the Province of Reggio Calabria. In 1962, at the age of 12, he immigrated to the United States along with his mother and two sisters to join his brother and father who had already moved to the United States in 1956. He graduated from Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx in 1967 and then attended Columbia University, with a full undergraduate scholarship, earning both a BS degree in Industrial Engineering and an MBA degree from its Graduate Business School.
Commisso played soccer for the Columbia Lions from 1967 to 1970. He was a member of a freshman squad that finished with an undefeated record and in his final season he was Co-Captain of the 1970 team that made Columbia’s first ever appearance in the NCAA Playoffs. A three-time All-Ivy League Honoree, Commisso was invited to try-out for the U.S. Soccer Team organized for the 1972 Olympics.
After playing at Columbia University, Commisso competed as a semi-professional in the New York area, coached at the youth level for 15 years, and remained an active contributor to his alma mater men’s and women’s soccer programs. In the mid-1970’s, he co-founded Friends of Columbia Soccer and, from 1978 to 1986, he was its Chairman. In 2013, Columbia recognized his contributions to the university by naming its soccer venue at the school’s Baker Athletics Complex as the Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium.
Commisso has garnered numerous professional awards throughout his career, including induction in the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and receipt of the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership, the cable industry’s highest honor. For his lifetime dedication to the “beautiful game,” Commisso was honored by the New York City Soccer Gala and enshrined into the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
Incredibly proud of his Italian heritage, Commisso was honored in 2018 as part of the Carnegie Corporation Great Immigrants Tribute and is the past recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, Gruppo Esponenti Italiani (GEI) Friendship Award, and Foreign Policy Association Medal.