Club / History


Football on water.

Venice's football club was originally founded as "Venezia Foot Ball Club" in 1907. After a merger with Venetian mainland club AC Mestre in 1987, the club's colors changed from the traditional neroverde (green-black) to the present-day arancioneroverde (orange-black-green).

Venezia FC's home stadium is Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo, which is located on the island of Sant'Elena, adjacent to the grounds of the Venice Biennale. It is the second-oldest football stadium in Italy, after Genoa's Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

The club has spent a large part of its history in Italy's top two divisions. Its most significant achievement to date is winning the 1940/41 Coppa Italia.

Venezia is competing in Serie A in the 2021/22 season, returning to the top flight for the first time in 19 years.

Early Years

Venezia Foot Ball Club was founded on December 14, 1907 in Venice through the merger of the football sections of two Venetian sports clubs: the Martial Gymnastics Society and Costantino Reyer. The football club was born at 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, Pietro Golzio, Silvio Lorenzetti, Pietro Piccoli, Primo Pitteri, Alessandro Santi, Marcello Santi, Luigi Vianello, Pietro Visintin, and Mario Vivante.

In the 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. On September 7, 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 1938/39, Venezia earned promotion to Serie A, and did so in dramatic fashion, defeating Atalanta in Bergamo, 0–1, on the final day of the season and overtaking them for second place on goal difference as the teams were tied on points. The winning goal, coming in front of 5,000 Venezia fans, was scored by Francesco Pernigo, who remains Venezia's all-time leading scorer (70 goals). 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.

Golden Era

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 in Venice over eventual champions Ambrosiana Inter — 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.

After winning the Coppa Italia, Venezia would make a run for the Scudetto. In the 1941/42 Serie A season, the Ezio Loik - Valentino Mazzola duo was outstanding, while Francesco Pernigo would score 12 league goals. In a potential title-deciding match towards the end of the season, Venezia hosted Roma at Stadio Penzo and lost, 0-1, after missing a penalty. 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.

Postwar Period

After World War II, Italian national football resumed in 1945/46. Serie A was restored the following season, and Venezia were relegated to Serie B, with Arnaldo Bennati leaving the presidency. Following the highest point in the club's history, a period of uncertainty began. Despite earning promotion back to Serie A in 1948/49, Venezia, in a financial struggle, would be immediately relegated back to Serie B. In 1951/52, Venezia would be relegated to Serie C, and the club would spend four seasons in the third tier, before finally earning promotion back to Serie B in 1956/57.

In 1960/61, 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 Serie B 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 Serenissima, a traditional Venetian boat, carrying the players from Stadio Penzo to Piazza San Marco.

On Venezia's return to Serie A in 1961/62, Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata became club president, with Anacleto Ligabue and Enrico Linetti as his deputies. Venezia would put together a respectable campaign, earning wins over Juventus and A.C. Milan and finishing 12th in the table. But the following season, Venezia were again relegated to Serie B. At the end of the season, there would be several departures, including manager Carlo Alberto Quario and striker Gino Raffin, who had scored 39 goals over the previous three seasons. After three seasons in Serie B, Venezia earned promotion to Serie A once again, but would be directly relegated back to Serie B, and would not see the top flight again for more than 30 years.

Merger and Return to Serie A

After relegation from Serie B in 1968, Venezia would languish in the lower divisions into the late 1980s, falling as far as Serie D. In 1986, Friulian businessman Maurizio Zamparini acquired the club, and he would lead a period of revival. On June 26, 1987, Zamparini merged Venezia with mainland club A.C. Mestre, giving birth to the arancioneroverde colors. In 1987/88, Venezia achieved promotion to Serie C1, returning to the third tier for the first time since 1976/77. The team featured players including Andrea Poggi, Giancarlo Filippini, and a young Paolo Poggi, and steadily built towards a return to Serie B. In 1990/91, under manager Alberto Zaccheroni, Venezia earned promotion back to Serie B after a 23-year absence. On June 16, 1991, in a playoff for second place to achieve promotion, Venezia defeated Como, 2–1, with 7,000 fans from Venice and Mestre attending the match in Cesena.

In 1997/98, under manager Walter Novellino, Venezia would finally earn promotion back to Serie A after a 31-year absence. The promotion was clinched at home against Fidelis Andria on June 7, 1998. Going into Serie A, Venezia sporting director Beppe Marotta would strengthen the team, including the signing of striker Filippo Maniero from A.C. Milan. But through the first half of the season, Venezia were bottom of the table, and Maniero hadn't scored a goal. In January, a turning point came with the arrival of young playmaker Álvaro Recoba on loan from Inter Milan. Maniero and Recoba would form a prolific partnership, combining for 23 goals in the second half of the season — Maniero with 12, Recoba with 11 — as they gradually pulled Venezia out of the relegation zone. In the penultimate week of the season, Venezia needed a win against Inter to preserve their Serie A status, and Recoba notched a goal and an assist in a 3–1 win, as Venezia completed their great escape.

In the 1999/00 Serie A season, manager Luciano Spalletti took charge of the team, but it would be a struggle after Recoba's departure. While Venezia would make a run in the Coppa Italia, eliminating Udinese and Fiorentina among others on their way to the semifinals, where they were finally beaten by Lazio, that form would not carry over to the league. Venezia ultimately finished 16th and were relegated back to Serie B. The following season, manager Cesare Prandelli arrived in the lagoon, and he would lead Venezia to an immediate return to Serie A, which was sealed with a win at Ravenna on June 3, 2001. But it wouldn't last, as Venezia struggled in the top flight in 2001/02 and would see its second relegation to Serie B in three years. On July 21, 2002, Zamparini withdrew from Venezia and took over Palermo.

Reorganization and Recent History

At the end of the 2004/05 Serie B season, Venezia were relegated and fell into bankruptcy. After the club was re-founded and admitted to Serie C2, Venezia earned promotion to Serie C1 in the 2005/06 season. Venezia 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. In the summer of 2009, Venice was in danger of being a city without a football club, but mayor Massimo Cacciari supervised the foundation of a new club, which was admitted to Serie D. Venezia won Serie D in the 2011/12 season and earned promotion 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.

In September 2015, a group of American investors acquired the club out of bankruptcy. After earning promotion to Serie C, Venezia hired former Italian national team star Filippo Inzaghi as manager. In Inzaghi's first season with the club, Venezia won promotion to Serie B, returning to the second tier for the first time in 12 years, and also won the Coppa Italia Serie C. The following season, Venezia finished fifth in Serie B, their highest finish in the league since the 2000/01 season, when they were last promoted to the top-flight. In the promotion playoffs, Venezia defeated Perugia in the opening round, but would lose to Palermo in the semifinals. Inzaghi would leave for Bologna at the end of the season.

In February 2020, Venezia owner Duncan Niederauer reorganized the club and took on the role of president. The following month, the 2019/20 Serie B season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 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. The following season, a resurgent Venezia finished fifth in Serie B, and thereby qualified for the promotion playoffs. In the opening round, Venezia eliminated Chievo Verona in extra time, 3-2, in a dramatic match at Stadio Penzo. In the semi-finals, Venezia defeated Lecce at Stadio Penzo, 1-0, and then held on for a 1-1 draw in Lecce to advance to the final, where they would face Cittadella. After winning the first leg at Cittadella, 0-1, Venezia seemed destined to take care of business at home — until they went down a goal and down a man in the first half. But Venezia's 10-man side fought valiantly in the second half, and in the 93rd minute veteran striker Riccardo Bocalon struck an equalizer to secure Venezia's return to Serie A for the first time in 19 years.

The 2021-22 season is that of the lagooners' historic participation in Serie A after 19 years. The orange and green, despite some prestigious victories including the one obtained on November 7, 2021 at the Penzo against Roma with a result of 3-2, at the end of the championship fail to maintain the category and return to the cadet series. To start again in Serie B, Venezia FC entrusts the bench to Croatian coach Ivan Javorčić. The start of the season is not at all easy and on October 31, 2022, with the team third-last with 9 points after 11 matches, the coach is relieved from the leadership of the lagoon club and in his place takes over on an interim basis the VFC Primavera coach Andrea Soncin. On Nov. 7, 2022, after only one match, Paolo Vanoli was appointed as the new coach of Venezia FC, taking over the team in the lower reaches of the standings. His arrival was joined shortly thereafter by that of new Sporting Director and General Manager Filippo Antonelli, who takes the charge of the sports area. Thanks to the invaluable work of both of them, assisted by the entire staff, Venezia managed to rise again and put together 40 points in 26 games, finishing the championship in eighth place with qualification for the play-offs, in which it was eliminated by Cagliari in the first round, coming out with its head held high after a splendid comeback. The following season Venezia restarted from the staples Vanoli and Antonelli and built a great team that throughout the championship was always among the top places, even managing to hook Parma as the leaders between the 13th and 14th day. The Arancioneroverdi come to play for direct promotion to Serie A until the last day in the long-distance challenge with Como, but after a 2-1 defeat in La Spezia they end the regular season in third place, earning 70 points and gaining direct access to the play-off semifinals of Serie B. In the final stage, the first opponent to face is Palermo, and the orange and green overcame the obstacle in a big way by defeating the Rosanero both in the first leg (0-1) with a goal by Nicholas Pierini and in the return leg (2-1) thanks to goals by Tanner Tessmann and Antonio Candela. Cremonese is the last obstacle dividing the lagunari from achieving Serie A. After a very balanced and hard-fought first match, which ended in a draw with no score, Venezia won the return match with a great goal by Christian Gytkjaer and turned the dream of Serie A into reality in a packed Penzo stadium, thus returning to the top division after only two years.