News from the Peninsula – Calciopoli: the end or the beginning?

It has been over four years since the Calciopoli scandal rocked worked football, yet the allegations and implications show no signs of abating. This week has thrown up yet more new claims of foul-play, with the overall picture becoming murkier as more evidence comes to light.

Former Juventus Director Luciano Moggi – one of the most implicated figures in the scandal – has seen his legal team trying furtively to lift the lid on a host of other suspected wrongdoers. The headline was apparent phone conversations between Inter President Massimo Moratti and the then referee’s designator Paolo Bergamo. Former Roma Coach Luciano Spalletti, Cagliari President Massimo Cellino, Reggina President Pasquale Foti and Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani have also been name dropped, with Moggi’s motif being, ‘either everyone is innocent, or everyone is guilty.’

It is a stance Juventus are obliged to standby, after all it was they who were most immediately and subsequently affected by the affair, after having two Scudetti stripped away and being relegated to Serie B, with this seasons travails in part being attributed to the consequences of Calciopoli. In theory, the nature of the offences mean you are either innocent or guilty, there are no half measures. The prevalence of these accusations will invariably lead to stronger suggestions, led by the Bianconeri, of retrospective sanctions to be imposed on other clubs to be punished for their misdemeanours. A statement released on Wednesday from the Turin giants hierarchy read: “With the utmost respect for the legal proceedings currently in progress, Juventus will carefully evaluate with its lawyers the relevance of new evidence. We wish to guarantee, both in the sporting and non-sporting jurisdictions, the most accurate protection of its history and its fans. Juventus trust that the institutions and justice system will know how to ensure equal treatment for all, which is what the club and its defence lawyers asked for during the trial of 2006.”

The call for equality from Juventus is a double-edged sword. Moggi and another director, Antonio Giraudo, were said to have an ‘exclusive’ relationship with the refereeing designators, hence the severity of their sentence, yet if more clubs are proven to have been able to contact the designators, it renders Juve’s relationship rather non-exclusive, and not only will their punishments be questioned, arguments will be voiced for similarly harsh penalties for any clubs that are found to break the rules.

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The latest revelations will also draw scrutiny to the original Calciopoli trial, and the grounds on which clubs were found guilty. The complexities of proving bribery and match-rigging meant a lot of the rumoured offences to doctor results were thrown out during the trial. The 2006 case never managed to prove such accusations and actually took measures in the summing up to declare that no matches were fixed or even attempted to be fixed. The perpetrators were effectively convicted on the grounds of breaking Article 1 of the sporting code of Italy, unsportsmanlike conduct, by maintaining exclusive relationships with refereeing officials in order to create an unfair and advantageous position, an offence punishable by duty of a fine according to the Italian Football Federation’s (FIGC) disciplinary guidelines. Due to the intensity of public pressure at the time, that punishment was accelerated to include the withdrawal of titles, points docking, relegation and sanctions to the individuals involved. But as Moggi and his legal team was raised during the week – “why hasn’t the same thing happened to Moratti who also spoke to the designator?”

In the aftermath of Calciopoli, a new rule was introduced by the FIGC which effectively made contacting a referee’s designator and indictable offence akin to attempting to match fix. In regards, details of the new batch of phone conversations throw up some interesting incriminations. Moratti can be heard trying to arrange a meeting with Bergamo, and the pair also decides the official for one of Inter’s Coppa Italia matches, elements under the new ruling which could see the Nerazzurri found guilty of match fixing. It is now expected that Moratti will be hauled up in front of the commission to give an explanation of events. As the trial continues, the authorities will also transcribe and investigate almost 200,000 recorded phone calls. The 2006 Calciopoli looks increasingly like the tip of a large iceberg.

After seeing a certain Mr L. Messi destroy Arsenal in midweek, all attention for the upcoming Champions League semi-final encounter with Inter has been focussed on fathoming out how to stop the Argentine genius. However, according to Genoa President Enrico Preziosi, he had the opportunity to sign the world’s best player for little Como – but decided not to.

Preziosi told Sky Sports: “When I was Como’s President, we had Messi over for a trial. He was 15 and we rejected him. As often happens, sometimes you make mistakes. But there isn’t any regret.” Regret is possibly not a view shared by Como’s fans who suffered three successive relegations from when they were last in Serie A in 2002/03, were at one point declared bankrupt, and now ply their trade in the third rung of Italian football.

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