Thursday, June 01, 2006

Moggi: I was Milan's victim

Luciano Moggi’s lawyer claims the former Juventus general manager was a victim of Milan’s power rather than the puppet master of Italian football.

The transfer guru’s intercepted phone calls sparked the wide-ranging Calciopoli scandal amid allegations of match-fixing and collusion with referees, re-named the ‘Moggi System’ by the press, but he is taking on a new line of defence as Juve risk docked points or even demotion.

“Moggi has always moved only to preserve Juventus’ status against the real power centres,” claimed lawyer Fulvio Gianaria in newspaper La Stampa. “I am referring to Milan, who have the television companies and therefore the possibility to negotiate and buy up the pay-per-view rights of the clubs.”

Gianaria is referring to the fact that Silvio Berlusconi, who owns Milan, also has substantial shares in Mediaset.

So far the Rossoneri have had only a marginal role in the investigation and the telephone calls intercepted have mainly suggested they were trying to prevent Moggi and Juventus dominating the system.

Now Moggi and his legal team claim the situation is reversed, creating even more confusion in the inquest. “The intercepted conversations were between six or seven people and the police have whittled down 2,500 calls to around 40 to support their theory of a football Mafia dominated by Moggi,” continued the lawyer.

“We want to listen to and collate every single phone call to show the real power centres: television rights, the strength of clubs and the corporations within the football system. To think Moggi could not only re-balance that situation, but even become the real power, is a joke. If we don’t have the documentation, we cannot defend ourselves, so we won’t go to any interrogation for the moment.”

As Moggi has now resigned as Juve director general, he is no longer legally obligated to attend an interrogation by the Italian Football Federation.

Milan have reacted angrily to these allegations and released a statement this afternoon. “Milan deplore the manifestly untrue statements that we buy and sell television rights. This is completely absurd.”

Meanwhile, public prosecutors interrogated Lazio President Claudio Lotito today over allegations of match-fixing and financial irregularities.

“We are able to prove that what we have been accused of does not square with the reality of the situation,” he said as he left the building. “Lazio are totally alien to conditioning and illegitimate interests. This is a clear and honest club based on the principles and values of sport. I’ve done nothing wrong and have no reason to be worried.”


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