Thursday, May 04, 2006

Calcio in a fix

The match-fixing scandal which engulfed Italian football has stunned the football world. It is an extraordinary tale involving wiretaps, illicit meetings and even allegations of locking referees in dressing rooms. Here on this blog we try to unravel the tangled web which has shaken Italian football.

Some of the biggest clubs and individuals in Italian football have found themselves at the centre of match-fixing allegations. The scandal revolved 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. Reggina and Serie B minnows Arezzo were implicated in the second wave of investigations.

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.

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 owned by his son Alessandro.

This special blog was created a few weeks after Italian newspapers published the first instalments of allegations and transcripts of suspicious phone calls on 3rd May 2006. Since then it has been updated with the latest news as more and more clubs and inviduals were implicated... there was no doubt that this was going to be the biggest ever scandal to hit Italian football!

The following posts offer an in-depth day-by-day developments on the scandal, and the aftermath which saw many clubs punished, individuals banned and Italian football tarnished for ever...


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