April 11, 2018 / 3:26 PM / a year ago

Soccer: Roma chairman makes major donation to city after illegal dive

ROME (Reuters) - A celebratory dive into a Rome fountain has cost the chairman of AS Roma dear.

James Pallotta apologised on Wednesday for his late night plunge following Roma’s victory over Barcelona in the Champions League and promised to pay not just a 500 euro ($620) fine but also offered 230,000 euros to restore a separate city fountain.

“We thank chairman Pallotta for his generosity after his dive yesterday,” said Rome mayor Virginia Raggi following a meeting with the U.S. businessman, who has been at the helm of AS Roma since 2012.

Roma pulled off one of the great comebacks in European soccer history on Tuesday by knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League with a 3-0 win in their quarter-final second leg, overcoming a 4-1 deficit from the first game.

Crowds took to the streets of the Italian capital after the final whistle to celebrate the victory, including in the central Piazza del Popolo, which has four small fountains built into the base of an ancient Egyptian obelisk.

A video posted on the internet shows Pallotta taking off his jacket before deliberately falling backwards into the fountain to the cheers of surrounding fans. Anyone caught bathing in Rome’s plethora of fountains faces a 500-euro fine.

“He has apologised. In a moment of exuberance he carried out this action, but he realises the importance of the example he has given, and he will clearly pay the fine,” Raggi said.

City Hall said Pallotta had also promised funds to help with the restoration of a fountain in front of the ancient Pantheon — now a church and formerly a Roman temple.

($1 = 0.8079 euros)

Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alison Williams

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