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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Strange interlude

     October 30, 1980 -- The Buffalo Stallions had some interesting moments in their brief history, but none was as bizarre as the Paolo Rossi situation.

     Rossi was one of the top players in Italy during the late 1970's. However, he was accused in 1980 of being involved in a betting scandal, and was suspended for three years (later reduced to two). Rossi always maintained his innocence, and one of his accusers later admitted that he had invented the story.

     What's a soccer player to do when suspended? Look for some place to play, which in this case -- almost unbelievably in hindsight -- was in Buffalo. The Stallions signed him, and he suited up for an exhibition game on this date.

     Rossi never did play in a regular-season game with the Stallions, as the Major Indoor Soccer League had no desire to get caught up in world soccer affairs that early in its life. But that's not the end of the story.

     Rossi came back just in time for the 1982 World Cup, and he led Italy to a victory. Rossi was named world footballer of the year for his efforts, and is now considered one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. Too bad he didn't get to spend more time in Buffalo.

--- Budd Bailey

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