Ex-Liverpool, turned ex-Galatasaray and now ex-Udinese man Albert Riera may have had his contract terminated by the Italian club for skipping a match to play poker.
On Nov. 23, Udinese had a match against Chievo. Riera, however, was entered in a poker tournament in Slovenia, a place where Serie A matches are rarely scheduled.
No one likes going to work. When you have the chance to gamble legally in Slovenia, you take it. Soccer will be there tomorrow. Or in Riera’s case, soccer will be there tomorrow, but promptly taken away four days later.
Thursday, Udinese announced that “the contract with the footballer Albert Ortega Riera has been terminated by mutual consent.” Sure, it was.
To his credit, Riera finished second in the poker tournament and took home a reported 3,000 pounds ($4,700). Not a bad one-day haul to start an unexpected retirement fund.
He has since denied (kind of) that the termination had anything to do with poker or any other off the field issues. “Man fired from soccer team for no longer being good at playing the game” is a much less interesting story, so it’s best to stick with the poker idea.