Atalanta’s match-fixing storm bears heavy rain on their hopes of survival

A metaphorical black cloud has hung over Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, the home of Atalanta throughout the summer following allegations of match-fixing and now the black cloud has produced the proverbial rain on the club that they feared with La Dea being found guilty by FIGC with the punishment being a deduction of six points, rather than the seven points requested from the prosecution, for the start of the coming season. The Bergamaschi club will appeal against their punishment and the club’s lawyers are confident of success in reducing the deduction but psychologically, the damage may well have already been done.
Atalanta has also been affected by the bans handed out to two of the club’s senior players. Thomas Manfredini has been banned for three years and the most saddening for Nerazzurri tifosi, club captain Cristiano Doni has been given a three and a half year suspension. At the age of 38, such a ban effectively spells the end of his professional playing career.
At the current moment, it is not known whether Doni will appeal but after pleading innocence on countless occasions since the accusations were first made, it would not be a surprise if he and his lawyers decided to do so. Doni’s role as the figurehead of the Atalanta squad would appear to be no more as Coach Colantuono will obviously need to make contingency plans and even if Doni’s appeal was successful, it would appear Doni’s influence would be greatly diminished.
It is not just La Dea who has been affected by the verdict as the reverberations have continued down the Italian football league ladder with various individuals and clubs being handed penalties and suspensions. Easily the most high profile individual to have been hit is Giuseppe Signori who has been faced with a minimum five year suspension from all football-related activity, much to the dismay of a generation of Calcio fans. In total, 17 clubs including Atalanta have been handed punishments ranging from either having points deductions, fines and in the case of Alessandria, relegation. The more high profile clubs sanctioned other than Atalanta are Ascoli (six points deduction and a fine), Piacenza (four points deduction and a fine), Benevento (nine points and a fine) while the likes of Verona and Sassuolo faced only monetary sanctions.
Of course, it is likely as has been the case in previous initial reprimands issued in match-fixing cases that such punishments will be reduced upon appeal. While Serie A has not directly involved in this latest bout of match-fixing as those involved did so with incidents involving lower divisions, it is nonetheless another significant blow to the reputation and credibility of Italian football.
These recent investigations show that match-fixing is not simply confined to the richer clubs in the peninsula. The culture of match-fixing appears to be more deep-rooted than hoped meaning that it will take a lot longer for Italian football to purge such evil from the game. It’ll be a while yet until the world of Calcio shrugs off the black cloud over its head.

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