Italian football’s tangled web
Italian sport journalist Giancarlo Galavotti the first who reported the first suspicious activities that blew into the biggest scandal of the Italian soccer history, he tries to unravel the tangled web which has shaken Italian football…
WHAT HAS HAPPENED?
Some of the biggest clubs and individuals in Italian football have found themselves at the centre of match-fixing allegations. The scandal revolves around transcripts of phone taps which appear to show key figures in Italian football putting pressure on referees to favour certain clubs.
The allegations were uncovered as prosecutors investigated doping allegations at Juventus, Italy’s most popular and successful club. That probe, which resulted in club doctor Riccardo Agricola being found guilty of administering drugs to players in the mid-90s, resulted in phone taps being ordered by Turin prosecutors.
As a result, Juventus – winners of their 29th Serie A title on 14 May – were implicated alongside AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio.
Juventus’ general manager Luciano Moggi, who resigned after Juve secured the title, was at the centre of the scandal although he protested his innocence. Italian Football Federation (FIGC) President Franco Carraro and vice-President Innocenzo Mazzini also resigned and the pair, along with Juventus director Antonio Giraudo, were among those under formal investigation.
Galavotti, who writes for Italian daily sport newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, said: “Our sales rocketed by about 50,000 copies a day since this happened. Even old women going to the market in the morning want to read about this. It is astonishing.”
WHAT WERE THE SPECIFIC ALLEGATIONS?
Prosecutors investigated Moggi and Giraudo for allegedly detaining referee Gianluca Paparesta and his two assistants in a changing room after Juve’s 2-1 loss at Reggina in November 2004. They were alleged to have berated the officials for not favouring Juve during the game.
In another transcript published by the Italian media, Moggi spoke to Pierluiggi Pairetto, the vice-chairman of UEFA’s referees’ commission, to put pressure on him to appoint a referee who would be favourable to Juve.
Italian newspapers printed wiretaps of calls Moggi made to government minister Giuseppe Pisanu. The Juve boss is alleged to have tried to persuade Pisanu to give the go-ahead to games despite the imminent death of Pope John Paul II – Juventus were scheduled to play against Fiorentina, who had two players suspended and two injured.
The game was cancelled when the Pope died and Pisanu, who is alleged to have asked for help for a lower-division team in his local area in return, has angrily denied any wrong-doing.
The troubles for Moggi did not stop there – he was under separate investigations with prosecutors in Naples and Rome looking into illegal gambling and the operation of a management company (GEA World) owned by his son Alessandro.
Meanwhile, Italy and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, still the world’s most expensive ‘keeper, was probed over allegations he gambled on matches – strictly forbidden in Italy.
WHO IS LUCIANO MOGGI?
Moggi has been with Juventus for 12 years and is one of Italian football’s most powerful men.
Galavotti said Moggi has a formidable reputation. “He has been considered as a sort of godfather of Italian football. When he joined Juventus 12 years ago, he was very sought after,” he said. “Until very recently Inter Milan were hoping to secure his services. The power of Moggi was already legendary 12 years ago, although not because of an ability to manipulate referees – that would have been too much. But he was considered to be ruler of the transfer market. It was commonly felt there wouldn’t be a transfer in Italy without Moggi’s consent.”
HOW SERIOUS IS THIS?
These events have proven even more serious than the events of 1980 when Milan and Lazio were demoted to Serie B following an investigation into match-fixing.
Juventus, who are owned by the powerful Agnelli family that also control car manufacturers Fiat, Milan and Fiorentina all qualified for next season’s UEFA Champions League, while Lazio were scheduled to play in the UEFA Cup. But all four clubs have been thrown out of Europe next season.
AC Milan remain in Serie A but will start next season with a 15-point deduction. Lazio, Fiorentina and Juventus were demoted to Serie B and were also deducted points.
Juve – the most successful team in Italian football history – will start next season 30 points behind their rivals and also had their last two league titles taken from them.
HOW DID PEOPLE REACT?
Needless to say, fans, media and even those who do not normally follow football have been stunned.
Galavotti said: “I would compare it to the fall of the fascist regime in Italy. When it fell, everybody was more or less compromised, because it could not have stood in power for 20 years by itself. People would not admit to being fascist, but they were concealing or pretending that they never were, switching sides with alarming ease. There are plenty who are saying that nothing has been proven and nobody has been indicted of anything yet. Moggi and Giraudo said they were victims and that things will be clarified to show just how innocent they are. But the gut feeling among the vast majority of Italians is that this is scandal the likes of which there hasn’t been before, at least in European football.”
FAQ: Calciopoli Scandal 2006
What are the origins of the Calciopoli?
The allegations were uncovered as prosecutors investigated doping allegations at Juventus. That probe, which resulted in club doctor Riccardo Agricola (who was cleared later from all charges by a civil court of law) being found guilty of administering drugs to players in the mid-90s, resulted in phone taps being ordered by Turin prosecutors.
As a result, Juventus have been implicated alongside AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio.
Juventus’ general manager Luciano Moggi is at the centre of the scandal although he has protested his innocence. The suspected matches are 19 Serie A matches from the 2004-05 season and 14 Serie A matches from the 2005-06 season.
Who are the people that Moggi’s recorded conversations were with?
1) Pierluigi Pairetto, vice chairman of the UEFA Referees Committee: Moggi allegedly pressured him into appointing match referees who would favour Juventus.
2) Giuseppe Pisanu, Italian minister of the interior: Moggi allegedly wanted him not to postpone matches when Pope John Paul II was in ill health, in particular one match when Fiorentina would have had four players absent.
Who are the players whose transfers are investigated?
Among the 41 players whose transfer details have been requested are French midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who was signed by Real Madrid from Juve in 2001 for a world record 75.1 million euros, Real Sociedad striker Darko Kovacevic, Benfica’s Fabrizio Miccoli and Dutch goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar, currently with Manchester United, but signed from Juventus by Fulham.
Who are the other characters, else than Moggi, who are accused in this scandal?
ANTONIO GIRAUDO – Former chief executive of Juventus. Also features prominently in the phone taps. Also under investigation by magistrates in Turin on suspicion of “false accounting” in relation to Juventus’s transfer activities.
ADRIANO GALLIANI – Vice-president of AC Milan and former president of the Italian Football League, the organization that looks after the interests of clubs in Italy’s top two divisions. His dual role had led to accusations of a conflict of interests.
LEONARDO MEANI – A member of Milan’s management. Newspapers published phone taps in which he spoke to the official assigning linesmen in April 2005, complaining about a linesman he selected after Milan lost to Siena.
DIEGO DELLA VALLE and ANDREA DELLA VALLE – Diego Della Valle is the owner of Fiorentina. His brother Andrea is the club’s president. In the phone taps the brothers complain about refereeing decisions with Moggi and FIGC official Paolo Bergamo in the 2004-05 season when the club risked relegation.
SANDRO MENCUCCI – Director general of Fiorentina. In phone taps dating from the end of the 2004-05 season he tells Bergamo and Innocenzo Mazzini (see both below) that Diego Della Valle will not continue to promote the interests of Serie A’s smaller clubs in return for favours from referees.
CLAUDIO LOTITO – President of Lazio and its biggest shareholder. In the phone taps he tells former FIGC vice-president Innocenzo Mazzini that Diego Della Valle has made him “a bandit’s offer” in relation to their game against Fiorentina at the end of the 2004-05 season. Lotito is also under investigation by magistrates in Milan on suspicion of market-rigging involving Lazio shares.
FRANCO CARRARO – Former FIGC president. Carraro resigned on May 8. He was questioned by magistrates on suspicion of knowing about the manipulation of refereeing appointments but doing nothing to stop it.
INNOCENZO MAZZINI – Former vice-president of the FIGC. Resigned on May 11. In intercepted telephone conversations with Moggi he makes disparaging references to Carraro and discusses which Juventus delegate will be attending a meeting on refereeing appointments.
COSIMO MARIA FERRI – A member of the FIGC’s commission for economic disputes. Charged with knowing about the manipulation of refereeing appointments in relation to Lazio matches but doing nothing to stop it.
PIERLUIGI PAIRETTO – The FIGC official in charge of assigning referees to Serie A games during the 2004-05 season and a former member of UEFA’s refereeing commission. In the phone taps he tells Moggi the name of the referee for Juventus’s Champions League match against Ajax Amsterdam in September 2004 two weeks before the game. UEFA rules state the name of a referee is to be communicated only 48 hours before the match.
PAOLO BERGAMO – A former FIGC official. Worked with Pairetto during the 2004-05 season, assigning referees for Serie A games.
TULLIO LANESE – Former president of the Italian Referees Association. Investigated by FIGC magistrates on suspicion of knowing about Moggi’s manipulation of referees but doing nothing to stop it.
GENNARO MAZZEI – A former FIGC official in charge of assigning linesmen to Serie A matches.
PIETRO INGARGIOLA – Former observer for the Italian Referees Association. In phone taps he claimed to have been present when Moggi and Giraudo locked referee Gianluca Paparesta in his dressing room following Juventus’s 2-1 defeat by Reggina in November 2004. Ingargiola did not report the incident.
MASSIMO DE SANTIS – Italian referee. De Santis was the FIGC’s proposed referee for the World Cup, but was withdrawn, along with two linesmen, after he was drawn into the match-fixing investigation.
PAOLO BERTINI – Serie A referee
PAOLO DONDARINI – Serie A referee
DOMENICO MESSINA – Serie A referee
GIANLUCA PAPARESTA – Serie A referee
GIANLUCA ROCCHI – Serie A referee
PASQUALE RODOMONTI – Serie A referee
PAOLO TAGLIVENTO – Serie A referee
FABRIZIO BABINI and CLAUDIO PUGLISI – Leonardo Meani asked Gennaro Mazzei for Babini and Puglisi to be assigned to Milan’s match against Chievo Verona in April 2005. Puglisi was a noted Milan fan. Meani got his wish and his team beat Chievo 1-0.
What are the accustaions that maybe targeted to Moggi?
a) Interfering with refs in Serie A, the Champions League and junior football.
b) Telling the Italy coach to pick players represented by his son’s agency.
c) Locking a ref in his dressing room.
d) Sending secret funds to the Vatican bank for safety.
e) Telling his contacts at the anti-drug labs to falsify Juve players’ dope tests.
f) Instructing TV producers to edit and change virtual reality replays of contentious moments in Juve matches to favour the Bianconeri.
Are all the investigations going on in the same city?
No, There are four criminal investigations going on which are linked to the scandal in Italian football. They are in:
NAPLES – This started after the telephone conversations were leaked to the press. The central figure is Luciano Moggi, but magistrates are questioning 41 people after identifying 19 matches which they believe to be suspicious.
ROME – Concerning GEA, the largest company of football agents in Italy with over 220 professional footballers and coaches on their books. It is run by Moggi’s son Alessandro.
TURIN – Magistrates are looking into the transfer dealings of Juventus. Moggi and another former Juventus director, Antonio Giraudo, are suspected of falsifying accounts and tax evasion.
What are the direct consequences?
1) Many resignations in the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) including president Franco Carraro and vice-president Innocenzo Mazzini
2) Juventus’ entire board of directors resigned on 11 May. Moggi resigned shortly after Juve won the 2006 Serie A championship on 14 May.
3) The share of Juve has went down more than 40 percent during the period after the first transcriptions were revealed. 4) The general opinion in Italy was much affected by the allegations. Even the host of Italy’s most popular soccer show, Aldo Biscardi, has resigned amid allegations that he collaborated with Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi to boost the club’s image on television.
What’s the situation of other clubs involved in the case?
There are many clubs which are involved in this case, and the degree of their punishment will be based on how much they are thought to be involved in match-fixing…
1) AC MILAN: Milan started this case by attacking Juve and demanding to take the last 2 scudetti won by Juve because they thought that only Juve would be punished. Now, Milan, knowing their destiny will be attached to others in this case, are attacking the whole trial which…
According to the transcripts, Milan chairman Adriano Galliani — who is also president of the Italian soccer league — apparently had club management member Leonardo Meani make arrangements with referees commission secretary Manfredi Martino.
Meani was reportedly told by Martino two days before a game against Chievo Verona that Gianluca Paparesta would officiate the match. Martino also informed Meani that the team’s linesman of choice, Claudio Puglisi, was assigned to the game.
2) LAZIO: Lotito is under investigation by magistrates in Milan on suspicion of market-rigging involving Lazio shares.
3) FIORENTINA: A telephone conversation between the recently-resigned FIGC vice-president Innocenzo Mazzini and a Fiorentina official Sandro Mencucci, in which the former explained to the latter what the club needed to do to stay in the first division. Fiorentina just managed to stay in the first division in the 2004/05 season with the same number of points as relegated Bologna.
4) SAMPDORIA: under suspicion over its 3-0 win over Fiorentina in February last year, which involved a referee allegedly picked to favour the Genoa club
How are the Italian clubs affected in the European tournaments?
The involved teams could be found ineligible to compete in the 2006-07 season of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, and the Italian Cup. Based on their final league positions, Juventus and Milan would enter the Champions League, Inter Milan and Fiorentina would enter the third qualifying round of the Champions League, and Roma, Lazio, and Chievo would be eligible for the UEFA Cup.
The list of Italian participants in next season’s competitions was due to UEFA on 5 June. On June 6, the FIGC officially withdrew from the 2006 Intertoto Cup, costing Palermo a place in the third round of the competition, citing the fact that the 2005-06 Serie A standings could not be confirmed by the 5 June deadline. FIFA have given FIGC an informal July 25 deadline to confirm the standings or face sanctions in the two larger European competitions.
What are the losses that Juve may suffer as a consequence of this scandal?
1) Well, the image of the club has been much hurt, and many years will have to come until people all over the world start to forget…
2) The club risks being relegated to Serie B or even to third division Serie C.
3) Contracts with Mediaset and Sky Italia, which has satellite broadcast rights, have clauses that allow the terms to be renegotiated if Juventus is relegated to a lower division
4) A 10 million euro contract for next season’s mobile phone rights with Hutchison Whampoa Ltd unit 3 Italia could be cancelled if Juventus are relegated.
5) Nike merchandising deal worth 14 million euros a year could be cancelled if Juventus drops out of Serie A for two consecutive seasons, which would be the case if it was relegated as low as Serie C.
6) 20 million euros a year shirt sponsorship deal could be withdrawn by oil company Tamoil.
7) Investors, media companies, the players and fans could all have claims for compensation against Juventus, which may lead to the club to announce being broke up…
8 ) Delays in building Juventus’ new stadium will mean the loss of 20-25 million euros a year expected from a major sponsor.
Is this the first scandal regarding Italian football?
Of course, no..
TORINO STRIPPED OF THE SERIE A TITLE, 1927
At the end of the 1926-27 season, Juventus’s city rivals, Torino, celebrated their first Serie A title before a newspaper article prompted the Italian Football Federation to investigate claims that the club had bribed opposition players. The investigation found that a Torino official had paid Juventus defender Luigi Allemandi 50,000 lire to underperform in the derby, which Torino won 2-1. Torino were stripped of the title and Allemandi was banned for life, but he was granted an amnesty the following year when the Italian football team won bronze at the Olympic Games.
AC MILAN, LAZIO RELEGATED FOR MATCH-FIXING, 1980
The match-fixing scandal that broke at the end of the 1979-80 season rivaled the scale of the current one. AC Milan president Felice Colombo and players from Lazio, Avellino, Perugia, Genoa and Lecce were arrested for match-fixing and illegal betting. Colombo was banned from football for life. Several players, including former national team goalie Enrico Albertosi and Italy’s 1982 World Cup hero Paolo Rossi, also received bans.
THE JUVENTUS DOPING TRIAL, 2001-present
The controversy began in July 1998 when Czech coach Zdenek Zeman, then in charge of AS Roma, told Italian magazine L’Espresso that “Italian football has to get out of the pharmacy”, and pointed a finger at Juventus. The resulting investigation by Turin magistrate Raffaele Guariniello concluded club doctor Riccardo Agricola had doped players between 1994 and 1998. Agricola was found guilty and handed a 22-month suspended prison term at the end of the first trial in November 2004. That sentence was overturned on appeal in December 2005. A third and definitive ruling is expected later this year.
GENOA SENT DOWN FROM SERIE A TO SERIE C1, 2005
At the end of last season Italy’s oldest club, Genoa, won promotion back into the top flight after finishing top of Serie B. The celebrations were cut short when a federation investigation found the club guilty of paying Venezia 250,000 euros to guarantee a win in their final game of the season. Instead of going up, Genoa were demoted to Serie C1, Italy’s third division.
Is match-fixing a trademark for Italy?
Of course not. Here is a list of major soccer match-fixing scandals in recent months:
GERMANY – German referee Robert Hoyzer, who admitted fixing matches, was sentenced to two years and five months in prison last November for his role in the biggest match-fixing scandal to hit the country in more than 30 years. Hoyzer and another referee, Dominik Marks, were found guilty of rigging games in return for payment from Ante Sapina, the Croatian ringleader of a two million euro ($2.34 million) betting fraud. Former Bundesliga player Steffen Karl was convicted of accepting money from Sapina to throw matches and received a nine-month suspended sentence.
BELGIUM – Five Belgian clubs are under police investigation along with many officials, players and individuals connected with the game. The probe began after internet betting exchange Betfair logged heavy betting patterns relating to La Louviere’s 3-1 win over St Truiden on Oct. 29, 2005. Both clubs have denied any involvement. The Belgian FA launched their own match-fixing investigation in February after a programme by Flemish national broadcaster VRT alleged seven first division matches this season were fixed.
AUSTRIA – Austrian police are investigating two alleged attempts at match rigging involving the coach of first division Sturm Graz and one of the team’s players. Coach Michael Petrovic and striker Bojan Filipovic are accused of accepting bribes from a Germany-based gambling syndicate in return for trying to throw the league matches against Salzburg and Austria Vienna. Both deny any wrongdoing.
CZECH REPUBLIC – Seven referees and three officials were convicted in January of giving and taking bribes to fix the matches of first division team Synot, now called Slovacko, in the 2003/2004 season. Ivan Hornik, the sporting director of Czech soccer club Viktoria Zizkov received a suspended seven-month sentence in March and was fined 900,000 Czech crowns ($37,690) for offering bribes to referees and soccer officials.
GREECE – Croatian Sapina, convicted of involvement in match-fixing in Germany, has been charged with fraud in connection with a UEFA Cup tie in Greece in 2004. UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, launched a probe in late 2004 into the Panionios-Dinamo Tbilisi match, which Panionios won 5-2 after trailing 1-0 at halftime. British betting companies at the time noted unusually heavy betting on such a scenario, prompting the investigation. While UEFA officially never closed the investigation, it has not announced any findings.
VIETNAM – Vietnamese police have filed criminal charges against six footballers accused of fixing a match against Myanmar at the Southeast Asian Games in 2005. State media said two of the players had confessed to agreeing to ensure Vietnam beat Myanmar by no more than one goal in the group stage match, allowing bookmakers to offer attractive odds on the country winning by more than a goal. Vietnam beat Myanmar 1-0 but lost to Thailand in the final held in the Philippines.
There are also many examples in other European countries such as France and England, as-well as many South American and African countries.
- Calciopoli Scandal 2006 Archive Blog
- Simon Kuper (2006-07-07). “Azzurri’s quest consoles nation rocked by scandals”. Financial Times. Retrieved 2006-07-30.
- ^ “Relegation call for Italian four”, BBC, 4 July 2006.
- ^ “Italy prosecutor wants Reggina relegated”, The Guardian, 13 August 2006.
- ^ a b c “Reggina to stay in Serie A”, The World Game, 18 August 2006.
- ^ a b c “Reggina suffer 15-point deduction”. BBC News. 2006-08-17. Retrieved 2006-08-19.
- ^ a b “Calciopoli: The sentences in full”. channel4.com. 2006-07-14. Retrieved 2006-07-30.[dead link]
- ^ a b “Punishments cut for Italian clubs”. BBC. 2006-07-25. Retrieved 2006-07-30.
- ^ a b c d e f As a consequence of the FIGC punishment. This does not include other possible sanctions for European competition that could be handed out by UEFA.
- ^ “Tax police search Juventus offices as probe goes on”, ESPNsoccernet, 18 May 2006.