Friday, May 26, 2006

Calls for massive shake-up

The scandal plaguing Juventus and a number of other teams in Italy's Serie A has "thrown a shadow across the whole of football," a leading Italian politician has said.

Following the allegations of widespread corruption, Piero Fassino, the leader of the Democrats Of The Left party - the leading left-wing party and a member of the governing coalition - has called for a massive shake-up in the way football is run in the country.

The crisis - which Italian newspapers describe as "the storm" - stems from transcripts of phone calls made by Juventus director Luciano Moggi discussing refereeing appointments. Moggi has since resigned, but officials from Lazio, Milan and Fiorentina are also under investigation - along with the former head and deputy head of the Italian Football Federation.

Meanwhile a number of Juventus players - including national team goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon - are under investigation for allegedly betting on matches, a practice illegal in Italy.

"I, like any other football fan, am totally mortified," Mr Fassino, himself a Juventus fan, said. "This throws a shadow across the whole of football. There are 142 professional teams, 13,000 non-professional teams, and millions of fans. It's even more upsetting to see all these people upset by this scandal."

The scandal shows few signs of stopping, despite the resignation of the entire Juventus board. Moggi has now been placed under formal investigation for suspected false accounting and tax evasion.

Juventus have now named Carlo Sant'Albano as their acting managing director until 29 June, when shareholders will decide on a new board.

And Mr Fassino said he believed it was down to the government and politicians to "make the game more transparent, cleaner, and more efficient. "I think clubs need to own their own grounds, so they are able to guarantee more resources for their clubs, as well as controlling the security of the club on matchdays," he added.

"I also think we need to look again at television rights, so that we are able to guarantee that all clubs are able to benefit from the money that is paid. We have got to make sure that referees are above any kind of influence, and make sure they have their own independent organisation."


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