Saturday, September 30, 2006

CAF chief Ruperto resigns

The Calciopoli scandal continues to pick up victims, as CAF President Cesare Ruperto has resigned, confirmed the FIGC.

The CAF (Federal Appeal Commission) was the first step in the scandal in July and inflicted the hardest penalties upon the four clubs and individuals involved. Ruperto’s commission demoted Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio with points penalties of 30, 12 and seven respectively and docked Milan 15 points.

These verdicts were slashed on appeal, with only the Bianconeri left in Serie B and most of the handicaps cut in half. Under his leadership, the CAF also inflicted a 15-point penalty on Reggina and a six-point deduction in Serie B for Arezzo in the second wave of the Calciopoli trial.

“Cesare Ruperto has decided to leave, starting from Monday, the position of CAF President,” read an official statement on the Federation website. “He personally communicated this to Commissioner Luca Pancalli, explaining in a letter that personal matters, tied to work and study, won’t allow him to continue his presence at the head of the Federal Appeal Commission.”

Most of the figures brought in to lead Italian football through the scandal have now moved on. FIGC Commissioner Guido Rossi was forced to resign due to a conflict of interest when he took charge of Telecom Italia.

Investigator Francesco Saverio Borrelli had also quit last week, but took back the decision so that he could concentrate on the new wiretap scandal involving Inter.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Borrelli launches investigation

Francesco Saverio Borrelli, the head of the Investigation Office, has benn called to enquire on the recent interception scandal involving Internazionale and telecommunications giants Telecom Italia.

The FIGC launched a new investigation after another scandal broke out in the past few days in Italy revealing hundreds of cases of phone interceptions by Telecom, with former referee Massimo De Santis accusing Inter of tailing him and tapping his phone in 2002.

Nerazzurri owner Massimo Moratti reacted immediately to the accusations, saying that his club had nothing to do with the interceptions despite Telecom Italia being one of its main shareholders, but said he was eager to meet Borrelli to answer any questions.

The latter will also meet De Santis, who presented himself to the civil prosecutors who are at the head of the investigation in Milan, declaring that he would claim damages.

Borrelli is scheduled to meet De Santis on Monday and the Inter patron on Tuesday, along with sporting director Gabriele Oriali, who hopes to clarify once and for all the position of the Scudetto holders.

If the accusations prove to be true, Inter could risk a fine for violating the sporting code, but there would be no consequences for the team itself in terms of points deductions.

Borrelli had decided to abandon the Federation after the mass departure of former Commissioner Guido Rossi and his staff, but the newly-elected Commissioner Luca Pancalli asked him to reconsider his decision and he revoked his resignation on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Agnolin presents Ethical Code

The Referees’ Association Commissioner Luigi Agnolin (left) with new refereeing designator Stefano Tedeschi.
Referees’ Association (AIA) Commissioner Luigi Agnolin has presented the new Ethical Code to the FIGC in the hope this will help prevent future scandals.

After Calciopoli, the footballing world is in need of new rules, including an innovative regulation for the men in black, who were protagonists of the summer scandal. Agnolin presented the new ethical code to the Football Federation today.

Article 16 of the regulation obliges all referees to report any suspicious behaviour they may observe in their colleagues, to avoid being themselves considered guilty of violating the ethical code.

Also, the referees and their assistants must inform the Association and its President of any job or partnership dating back to the last three years.

Article 13 of the code forbids accepting any presents which are worth more than 80 euros and the referees will be punished if they record a telephone call with a colleague or a Federal member, without asking for the interlocutor’s permission before the conversation begins.

In the intentions of Agnolin the new code should avoid the ambiguity surrounding the behaviour of many referees in the past few years and should deter any wrongdoing, but the first reactions to the new rules also highlighted that they will need to be carefully managed by the Referees’ Association in order to avoid a dangerous witch-hunt.

Borrelli opts to stay on

Francesco Borelli tendered his resignation last Wednesday.
Francesco Saverio Borrelli has confirmed that he has withdrawn his resignation from the Italian Football Federation and will remain in his role as the head of the FIGC Investigation Office.

Borrelli had tendered his resignation a week ago after the mass departure of former Commissioner Guido Rossi and his staff, but the newly-elected Commissioner Luca Pancalli asked the 76-year-old magistrate to reconsider his decision immediately after he was appointed on Thursday.

Borrelli met both the Italian Minister of Sport Giovanna Melandri and Pancalli himself, in what he defined as two satisfying meetings.

“I feel that there is trust in the job I am doing – I am flattered and thankful for this,” read an official statement directed at Pancalli.

“I feel that there is a unanimous will to innovate and change the Federal structures and rules. In this constructive climate and considering that you have asked me to keep a direct communication channel with you, in order to transmit the data acquired and any useful reflection originated by this information, I am pleased to inform you that I intend to revoke my resignation as Head of the Investigation Office.”

Borrelli’s first job will be to investigate former referee Massimo De Santis’ accusations about Inter, who allegedly hired an investigator to spy on him and tap his phone in 2002, as well as complete the inquiry on the illegal betting that was launched in the past few months.

Moggi attacks Rossi

Luciano Moggi was at the centre of this summer's scandal.
Luciano Moggi has hit out at former Federal Commissioner Guido Rossi, accusing him of acting on Inter’s behalf during the match-fixing investigation.

Juventus’ former director general was handed a five-year ban in the aftermath of the scandal and believes that Rossi intentionally wanted to ruin him and the Bianconeri.

“Inter, Telecom Italia, Massimo Moratti, Marco Tronchetti Provera and Rossi are all partners in the same things – that is Telecom Italia and Inter,” Moggi said on Italian television last night.

“Rossi did what he had to do and then returned to his home base at Telecom,” added Moggi, referring to Rossi’s new appointment at the head of Telecom Italia, which forced him to resign from his post at the FIGC last week.

"The revelations of the past few days confirm what I have been saying for months when I referred to industrial espionage. I once again deny the legitimacy of the phone interceptions. Often there are words missing and in other print-outs there are extra words – how can we trust this kind of information?

“That is why I decided to give Paolo Bergamo some foreign mobile phone cards, I was aware that everyone knew what I was doing and had to somehow protect myself. Juventus was hit in a moment of weakness following the death of Gianni and Umberto Agnelli – had they been alive these things would have never happened.”

The Old Lady of Italian football currently resides in Serie B with a 17-point deduction, although they are hoping to have that reduced at their CONI hearing next month.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Inter under FIGC investigation

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) are set to launch an investigation after referee Massimo De Santis accused Internazionale and their owner Massimo Moratti of spying on him.

De Santis, who was banned for four years by the FIGC in the match-fixing scandal this summer, claimed Moratti had illegally recorded his telephone conversations. These allegations came after another scandal broke out in the past few days revealing hundreds of cases of phone interceptions by telecommunication giants Telecom Italia.

“When I first learned about this operation by Massimo Moratti I was disgusted, even if I know that can be a strong word to use,” said De Santis in a television interview. “I am paying for something that I didn’t do, I have always stated my innocence and to know today what was happening a few years ago really makes me sick. Why were they following me? I think they maybe wanted to blackmail me.”

The complaint relates to the 2002/03 season when former Inter vice-president, the late Giacinto Facchetti, held a conversation with former referee Danilo Nucini. Nucini told Facchetti he feared De Santis had an extraordinary relationship with the then Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi and other Juve directors.

Facchetti passed on Nucini's remarks to Moratti, who hired a team of investigators, 'Polis d'Istinto', to record De Santis' telephone conversations, to follow and film him and his wife and take secret photographs.

The investigation however brought to no firm results and the file was closed seeing as “there were no anomalies in De Santis’ way of life.”

After the state investigation was last week opened up into the illegal monitoring of telephone calls by Telecom Italia, details of Moratti's private investigation were revealed.

If the accusations prove to be true, Inter could receive a fine, although a points deduction is not a possibility since they have, at worst, broken article one of the sport’s code of justice and not articles two or six, which were infringed upon by Juve, who were consequently relegated to Serie B this summer.

The Inter owner also faces the prospect of a suspension for breaking the game's code of justice relating to fairness and honesty.

Moratti reacted immediately, saying that his club has nothing to do with the interceptions despite Telecom Italia being one of its shareholders. “He’s got some cheek to say this kind of things – Inter has no involvement in this issue,” said the oil tycoon to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I think De Santis’ words are very serious, he cannot ignore the damage he is causing us by making these statements.”

This latest disturbance comes at a time when the FIGC are attempting to put all the problems from this summer behind them.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pancalli lands FIGC post

Luca Pancalli has been appointed as the new Commissioner of the Italian Football Federation in place of Guido Rossi.

Pancalli is the head of the Italian Paralympic Committee and was voted unanimously by the Italian Olympic Commitee (CONI) council, who were called to find a new chief for the Italian football governing body after Rossi was forced to leave.

The former Commissioner became the head of Telecom Italia last week and it immediately became clear that he could not hold both posts, thus choosing to resign along with his assistants.

Pancalli, a 42-year-old Roman lawyer and also deputy Vice-President of the Italian Olympic Committee, was a promising pentathlete before a horse riding accident led to him being wheelchair-bound from the age of 17. He then dedicated himself to the sports for the disabled and was an excellent swimmer, winning 16 medals at the Paralympics and 10 medals in the World Championship.

“I am a man of sport and I believe in the rules,” said Pancalli to La Gazzetta dello Sport before his new role was formalised. “The job done by Rossi will not be wasted and there will be no delays in the process to renovate Italian football. Football is not only a business but also a sport and I will do all I can to bring it back to its old values. How long will I stay in place? It’s too early to say.”

The new man at the top of Italian football has promised that he will bring back serenity to the Italian game. “I want to thank CONI President Gianni Petrucci for choosing me, I can’t hide that I am very excited,” said Pancalli after his unanimous election.

“As a sportsman I am honoured at the trust that the council has given me, nominating me to guide the Football Federation which represents a very important part of Italy’s sport. I will face this adventure with dedication and commitment. I am used to facing challenges, and my main objective is to bring back the serenity we lost during the summer. I ask the media to help me with this. There has to be space for everyone to speak, that is the only way. I hope that Francesco Saverio Borrelli (head of the Investigating Office) will reconsider his resignation and that he will still be part of this team, continuing this challenging journey next to our side. I do not fear the hostility of the footballing world, I think that the time for words has ended and we now need facts.”

In his resignation letter, Rossi said he had "gradually realised", during his four-month stint, that "everything (or almost everything) was against real renewal". Rossi resigned without putting forward the keenly awaited proposals for Italian football reform he had been working on. These reportedly included ways to rein in spending and better regulate the transfer and TV rights markets, possibly via a new government authority. The task of drafting reforms will now fall to the new chief.

CONI President Gianni Petrucci confirmed that Pancalli’s mandate will end on February 28, 2007 in order to give him the time to rewrite the regulation and proceed to new elections.

Meanwhile Gigi Riva, who is currently the team manager of the Italian national team, was appointed as Federal Vice-Commissioner as was Massimo Coccia, who was chosen by Rossi to rewrite the game’s regulations.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Calciopoli investigator tenders his resigination

The chief investigator for the Italian Football Federation's inquiries into the Calciopoli scandal, Francesco Saverio Borrelli, has become the latest official to present his resignation, complaining of limited powers to pursue investigations.

Borrelli, a retired criminal prosecutor who gained prominence during the 'Clean Hands' corruption probes that changed Italy's political landscape, said the powers of his office were "extremely modest".
He said his resignation had been made inevitable by Monday's resignation of the Italian Football Federation's emergency commissioner Guido Rossi, the man charged with cleaning up the Calciopoli mess.

Borrelli, 76, was handpicked by Rossi, 75, to pursue the FIGC probes that led to penalties for clubs, referees and officials including the relegation of Italian champions Juventus and a five-year ban for its ex-general manager, Luciano Moggi, Calciopoli's alleged ringleader.

In his resignation letter, Borrelli said he had quit "principally" because of the resignation of Rossi, who was forced to give up his post after being named head of embattled telecoms giant Telecom Italia. But the veteran former prosecutor then answered a plea by FIGC's interim chief, Massimo Coccia, to review his position after FIGC appoints a replacement for Rossi on Thursday.

Experts said Borrelli was unhappy with the FIGC inquiry office's heavy dependence on criminal prosecutors and inability to act effectively on its own, especially in probing financial issues. They also said the ex-Clean Hands spearhead believed only a figure with the clout of Rossi could withstand vested interests within the Italian football world who were against root-and-branch reform.

Rossi: Nobody wants reform

Outgoing Italian Football Federation chief Guido Rossi says there is no real desire to change the game following the match-fixing scandal that has rocked the Italian football world.

Rossi was appointed as FIGC commissioner in May after Franco Carraro quit as President, but Rossi himself stepped down this week after he was also appointed as the new head of Telecom Italia.

Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) chief Gianni Petrucci, who appointed Rossi, confirmed that he could not allow the former stock market regulator to finish his job and Rossi has hit out at the footballing community on Wednesday.

“During these months I have acknowledged the total lack of the conditions necessary for a true renovation of this movement,” said Rossi in a letter formalising his decision.
“Petrucci was very courteous and I appreciate that, but unfortunately I admit that I felt there was no trust in what I was doing. I am sure the time was right to really change Italian football. But the unexpected anticipation of the formal and institutional passages that we had agreed to made me understand that there are no longer the conditions needed for a serene and frank discussion on the renovation process.”

Rossi’s relationship with the institutions was never easy and he was often accused of not really knowing the world he was trying to renew.

Lega Calcio boss Antonio Matarrese was often critical of him, but reports suggest that the Federal budget and Italy’s candidacy for the 2012 European Championships were also among the reasons that saw Rossi walk away.

His assistants Vito Gamberale and Paolo Nicoletti also resigned on Monday, whereas vice-commissioner Demetrio Albertini offered his services for the transition phase. Massimo Coccia, who was chosen by Rossi to rewrite the game’s regulations, will cover Rossi’s role until the new chief is appointed by CONI on Thursday.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

CONI accept Rossi resignation

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) will select a successor to Guido Rossi on Thursday after accepting his resignation as the head of the Italian Football Federation.

Rossi quit on Monday night when it became clear that he could not continue in his job after having been appointed as the new President of Telecom Italia on Friday. “Professor Rossi and vice-commissioners Vito Gamberale and Paolo Nicoletti have brought forward the end of their mandate and the Italian Olympic Committee [CONI] council have acknowledged this decision,” read an official CONI statement.

CONI adjourned their meeting until Thursday when a new man will be nominated to continue Rossi’s attempt to renovate Italian football, after it was rocked by the match-fixing scandal during the summer.

Massimo Coccia, who was chosen by Rossi to rewrite the game’s regulations, has not resigned and will cover Rossi’s role until the new chief is appointed in two days’ time. “I was not involved in this matter, none of my colleagues asked me what my intentions were so I will not resign – although my mandate remains at the disposal of CONI,” said Coccia.

“I am convinced that we did the right thing when we chose Rossi in May,” explained CONI President Gianni Petrucci (pictured). “I confirm that I have a very high consideration of the professor and the situation has simply changed. “But I believe that the renovation process of Italian football will continue, we will prove that we do not intend to cover up anything. On Thursday we will make a logical choice by appointing a person with specific characteristics, who will probably not come from the world of football.”

Meanwhile, Demetrio Albertini has said he is willing to continue aiding the Federation following the resignation of Rossi. “I totally agree with the decisions and the general policy lines of Professor Rossi,” said Albertini. “I now remit my mandate to the Italian Olympic Committee to evaluate together the conditions for the continuation of this project. I am available to help out in this transition phase and I am willing to offer my services to football and Italian sport.”

Petrucci said, “[Vice-commissioner] Demetrio Albertini will stay and I have also spoken to Roberto Donadoni and Pierluigi Casiraghi to confirm our trust in the work they are doing with the national teams.”

Monday, September 18, 2006

Rossi quits as FIGC chief

Guido Rossi has resigned as Federal Commissioner of the Italian Football Federation, along with his assistants Vito Gamberale, Paolo Nicoletti and Demetrio Albertini.

Rossi was appointed to lead the Federation after chief Franco Carraro left the FIGC in May, when the match-fixing scandal broke, but was also chosen as President of Telecom Italia on Friday – causing discomfort amongst many clubs.

The Commissioner and his staff met the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) chief Gianni Petrucci, who confirmed that a conflict of interests problem existed which would not allow Rossi to continue in his job at the FIGC.

“Rossi and his Vice-Commissioners suggested the conditions necessary for them to hand out a structural renovation of Italian football,” read an official FIGC statement during the night. “After several meetings with the institutions involved, the Commissioner and his staff have verified that the circumstances do not allow them to continue in their job and they have therefore decided to resign.”

Reports suggest that Rossi and his staff had asked to remain in their place until the end of October – in order to finalise the new football regulations – and wouldn’t have pushed for a new mandate, but Petrucci ruled out such a possibility.

Another man must now be found to lead the crisis-hit FIGC, as Gamberale was one of the main candidates to replace Rossi. Petrucci may be forced to temporarily substitute the resigning Commissioner himself, although he does not seem keen on the option, but a power vacuum in this delicate phase is inconceivable. The names of Gianni Letta and Raffaele Pagnozzi – who was Extraordinary Commissioner from 1996 to 1997 – have also been suggested as possible alternatives and the CONI council will discuss the FIGC’s future in a meeting on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

FIGC in chaos as Rossi takes charge of Telecom Italia

The world of Italian football has reacted angrily to news that FIGC Commissioner Guido Rossi has taken charge of Telecom Italia – a clear conflict of interest.

Appointed in an emergency capacity to lead the Federation through the match-fixing scandal in May, Rossi stunned the sporting community when he was appointed President of the troubled telecommunication company late last night.
Although he has not formally handed in his resignation from the FIGC – and the CONI chief Gianni Petrucci confirmed he had only heard about the development through the news agencies – it would be practically impossible for him to continue in both positions.

“Rossi has no intention of leaving. I am convinced he’ll stay on,” FIGC Vice-President Vito Gamberale was quoted as saying in today’s newspapers.

But Rossi cannot lead Telecom through its controversial reconstruction plans and rewrite the Calcio rulebooks, as it would be a clear conflict of interest – the very situation his appointment was meant to prevent. Telecom Italia owns Alice (who show football on their mobile phone services), TIM (who sponsor Serie A and B) and La7 (a television channel that has 10 clubs in its digital pay-per-view package).

“How many posts can he hold? At this point I think it’s opportune for Rossi to resign, at the very least from his position as Extraordinary Commissioner for the FIGC,” said Minister for Justice Clemente Mastella.

“I am awaiting clarification,” added Minister for Sport Giovanna Melandri. “One thing has to be clear – the reformation of football must not be interrupted in any way.”

Rossi had been hailed by some quarters as the saviour of calcio, but bitterly criticised by others, such as Fiorentina President Diego Della Valle.

“I’m very glad he’s taking this position, I’m sure he’ll be well suited to the job,” sarcastically noted Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini. “Now we’ll get a new President for the FIGC, it can’t be that hard. We must immediately call a meeting and elect a new Federal chief. I’ve been asking for this for a long time.”

Now the race is on to find another man to lead the Federation – it would be the third such figure in five months, as Franco Carraro resigned in the wake of the Calciopoli scandal on May 16.

The Federation will be hoping to appoint a new chief before the tricky arbitration for those punished in the match-fixing trial take place in October. The appointment could either be with someone outside of the football world, in which case the prime candidates are Gianni Letta and Gamberale.

If the clubs choose a return to having the sport dictated by a person who knows the environment well, then current CONI chief Petrucci (who already took over temporarily in 2000) or Raffaele Pagnozzi (who was Extraordinary Commissioner from 1996 to 1997) are the most likely options.

Refs' zero tolerance on clubs

New refereeing designator Stefano Tedeschi (pictured, right) warns he'll report any club official who tries to phone him in the wake of the match-fixing scandal.

Paolo Bergamo’s successor does not intend to accept any pressure from the clubs and wants this to be very clear after the scandal that rocked Italian football during the summer.

“There are rules that exist and must be respected. If the club Presidents have complaints about refereeing decisions, they must speak to the Lega Calcio,” said Tedeschi in newspaper ‘Il Corriere dello Sport’.

“The Referees’ Association Commissioner Luigi Agnolin (pictured, left) and myself are the only people allowed to speak with the referees, no one else should dare to do so,” added the designator. “I will immediately report any Presidents who try to call me and they will have to face the consequences.”

Former designator Bergamo confirmed on Monday that he used to receive calls from everyone, including Inter, Roma and Milan. “They would call me if they needed any clarification,” explained Bergamo, who resigned from his post before the Calciopoli sporting trial got underway.

Tedeschi also wants to eradicate the long-lasting habit of presents being given to the referees by the clubs. “No gifts worth more than 130 Euros will be allowed and there will be no exceptions. Our referees used to go on to the pitch with too much pressure on them, so my first objective is to bring back serenity and make everyone understand that we will not tolerate any servile behaviour. Only the best referees will get on, we are here to offer our services to football, not to a group of clubs. It’s time to turn over a new leaf and I am sure we will slowly be able to do so.”

Friday, September 15, 2006

CONI arbitration dates set

Juventus, Milan and Lazio are scheduled to appear in front of the Italian Olympic Committee's (CONI) Arbitration Court on Wednesday 11 October, followed by Fiorentina the day after.

The four clubs were punished in the aftermath of the match-fixing scandal and are fighting for a reduction of the sanctions imposed against them – with the Arbitration Court being the last degree in appeal within the sporting justice system.

CONI have confirmed that the hearings will take place at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and the President of the board of arbitrators will be Pierluigi Ronzani, with the aid of Guido Cecinelli, Marcello Foschini, Luigi Fumagalli and Giulio Napolitano.

Juventus, who were stripped of their last two Serie A titles and demoted to the Second Division with a 17-point deduction, had initially threatened to appeal to the TAR Lazio civil court. The Bianconeri then dropped the option, choosing to remain within sporting justice, in the hope of seeing the point deduction reduced or totally scrapped.

Milan instead began their Serie A season with an eight-point penalty, Fiorentina were docked 19 points and Lazio 11.

Third parties interested in taking part in the debate must present their request to CONI by September 25, confirmed an official statement on the Committee’s official website.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Matarrese opens new chapter

Italian Football League chief Antonio Matarrese is optimistic that this summer’s scandals can be archived after the season started over the weekend.

“I think that everyone understood the lesson, there is the will to show that Italian football has changed,” Matarrese told Radio RAI.

The game was thrown into disarray last May when the match-fixing scandal erupted, one which led to numerous clubs being docked points and Juventus even being demoted to Serie B. Yet the new campaign finally kicked off on Friday night with a Serie B fixture and Serie A followed suit with Roma-Livorno.

“We started off in the right way,” added Matarrese. “Only time will tell if we were right or wrong, but we can’t afford to make any more mistakes. Any further false moves would be suicidal, there is tension inside the Lega because we want to prove that we deserve to be forgiven by the supporters and by public opinion. I believe that some changes have already taken place. The new season began with all clubs being placed on a level playing field.”

FIGC commissioner Guido Rossi – hired after the Italian Football Federation was placed into administration – is currently rewriting the sport’s rules, but Matarrese insists they were already in place.

“The problem was that someone did not respect the rules, Rossi now needs to work with the Lega to give new credibility to our movement,” he added. “One thing that needs to be done is to avoid that the individuals involved in the scandal continue working in football as if nothing happened. Francesco Borrelli [the FIGC Calciopoli investigator] is not enough to cancel the system, we need other men who know Italian football from the inside, that is the only way we can really start over.”

Sunday, September 10, 2006

New Season Kicks-off

Juventus were held to an embarrassing draw against 10-men Rimini in the Turin club's first Serie B appearance following their demotion for their leading role in the match-fixing scandal.

Didier Deschamps' side have a points total of minus 16 after starting their campaign in the second division with a 17-point deduction. The club was also been stripped of the past two Serie A titles.

Juve may have had their title revoked, but they were still wearing the 'Tricolore' symbol today. In Italy, the title holders have the right to wear the shield on their shirts (representing the previous season's achievements) and, as a result of the match-fixing scandal, the 2005-06 Championship was revoked and handed to Internazionale instead. However, the team kept its achievements in full view during today’s Serie B debut, wearing special wristbands with the Scudetto insignia. All the players had this item, as did directors John and Lapo Elkann and director Jean Claude Blanc (pictured).

Arezzo, the other Serie B club involved in the scandal, were also held to a 1-1 draw at home to Mantova on Friday night. The result means they are now on minus five points.

In Serie A meanwhile, AC Milan made a good start to their initial task of overturning their eight-point penalty by fending off a late Lazio comeback to record a 2-1 victory. The visitors themselves began the season with an 11-point penalty.

Fiorentina kicked off their new campaign with a 3-2 defeat against Inter and are looking at a very long season after being hit with a 19-point deduction. The fourth Serie A club involved, Reggina, were defeated at Palermo despite scoring three goals away. They had hoped to chip away at their 15-point penalty but lost 4-3.

To keep up-to-date with all the the latest action on the field, please head over to the Italian Calcio blog!

Moggi "was protecting Juve"

Disgraced director general Luciano Moggi went on television today to insist he was only trying to protect Juventus from the “real powers” in football.

“My mistake was in trying to protect Juventus,” explained the transfer guru at the centre of the scandal. “For nine years this club didn’t win anything in Italy and now they’ll go back to that record, because the real system was not the one people might think.”

Moggi’s wiretapped telephone conversations with high-ranking officials in the FIGC and Referees’ Association (AIA) were the reason Juve were demoted to Serie B with a 17-point penalty, but he insists he did nothing wrong. “All I ever did was ask questions to check that the best referees were in place and I don’t think that is sporting fraud. It’s true, I made phone calls, just like many others did. Where are the rules barring conversation?”

Banned from taking a job in football as a result of the trial, Moggi has now been interviewed by a series of television companies in a bid to clear his name. “I have understood that the public knows what happened, that I did nothing wrong. When it comes to wiretapped telephone calls, you have to do a complete job and not just for one person or a certain percentage of these conversations.”

Juventus are now in Serie B and, while their appeal could see the 17-point penalty reduced, Moggi believes there were power games at work far stronger than his own. “Something happened in the trial to prevent me from defending myself. Juve’s lawyer also made a mistake in accepting Serie B with a penalty. Gianni Agnelli hired me and unfortunately he is no longer with us. If he had been here, all of this wouldn’t have happened.”

The legendary figures of the Agnelli family, Gianni and his brother Umberto, died in recent years and it’s widely believed that the club has lost its way without their leadership.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Juve 'need five years' to recover

Juventus director Jean Claude Blanc warns it’ll take five years for them to return to their former glories.

“We’re in Serie B and out of Europe, so we need to renegotiate our sponsorship contracts. We had to have a solid and credible project to convince Tamoil at the other business partners to stay, explaining this team will return to the top,” said the Frenchman. “Sky Italia and Nike are also interested in remaining, as this is an opportunity for them to share in the history of a club that has its roots in 109 years of glory. I’ll propose a four-year contract with Tamoil, because that’s how long we’ll need to complete the project.”

The Bianconeri hope to achieve promotion back into the top flight immediately, even with the 17-point handicap, but Blanc warns the fans will need to be more patient. “We must be clear and explain to the supporters that we are doing the utmost to defend the honour and reputation of Juventus. We all want the same thing, but if I say we’ll need four or five years to achieve it, that’s realistic rather than a lack of ambition. With Juve in Serie B we have reached the end of an era and it took a long time to build that squad.”

The Turin giants are already out of the Coppa Italia and begin their campaign away to Rimini. “We have maintained a competitive side with eight internationals,” pointed out Blanc. “It wasn’t a wise decision from a financial perspective, but if we consider our ambitions and the history of this side, it was the correct choice.”

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Moggi's CONI case adjourned

The CONI conciliation court has adjourned Luciano Moggi’s hearing until September 21, as the former Juve official continues his battle against the punishments he recieved following the match-fixing scandal.

The ex-director general of the Bianconeri club was handed a five-year ban and a first appeal to civil court TAR was already rejected in August.

Conciliator Ciro Pellegrino explained the reasons behind Thursday’s decision. “Moggi resigned from his role during the disciplinary procedure and this may now represent a conflict with the compromise clause,” he stated.

In fact, the former Juve director is no longer a member of the Federation and therefore may not be allowed to appeal to CONI – the Italian Olympic Committee.

“Moggi will have to appear in person on September 21, we will then be able to decide on the matter,” added Pellegrino.

The FIGC lawyer Luigi Medugno is instead convinced that Moggi’s conciliation request is not admissible. “Moggi affirms that he is no longer a member of the Federation, but this also means that he cannot ask to conciliate with us,” he noted.

Moggi offers Facchetti apology

Former Juventus director general Luciano Moggi has revealed his regret that Giacinto Facchetti’s name was brought up in the match-fixing scandal.

Moggi has offered his apology to the Inter legend’s family on the day of his funeral after the former Bianconeri official mentioned Facchetti in intercepted telephone conversations which set off the investigation. “It is banal to say that we will miss him, but I feel the need to apologise for involving him,” said Moggi to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I had no idea the situation was that serious. We have lost a champion that I was lucky enough to see in action many times with the ‘Grande Inter’ and the Nazionale. He was a strong and determined man, inspired by deep sporting values,” continued the controversial figure. “He was an example first as a player and then as an official, everyone who loves football will miss him dearly. I ask everyone, most of all his family, to forgive me if he was involved in situations that he did not deserve to be associated with. These are sincere apologies. I knew he was not well, but I was not aware of the seriousness of his condition. I hope his wife and children will forgive me and I offer my condolences to Massimo Moratti and all the Inter club,” concluded Moggi.

Italy mourn Facchetti loss

Juve lodge appeal over points loss

Juventus lodged an appeal with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) after deciding against taking their case to the civil courts last week.

Juve had originally threatened to go straight to the civil courts with their case, but the possibility of sanctions saw them step back and now an official appeal has been handed in to the CONI for arbitration. Now accepting their Serie B status, the Bianconeri are eager to have their 17-point penalty reduced or even wiped out completely.

The conciliation meetings with the FIGC have so far been disappointing, as the two parties are often too far apart in their demands.

Meanwhile here's a round-up of the rest of the main stories...

Tullio Lanese, the former chief of the AIA (Referees’ Association), failed to have his two year and six month ban reduced.

Referee De Santis also emerged from the FIGC meeting without a deal to cut his four-year suspension and is now evaluating his options. “I think the Calciopoli trial was rushed and affected by this desire for rough justice,” said the referee. “I believe that if those judges who made the initial sentences were to evaluate the situation today, they would act differently.”

Yesterday, another referee, Gianluca Paparesta was suspended for eight months as part of the scandal. The whistle-blower is already sitting out a three-month ban from the original trial, but this new punishment comes from the AIA Disciplinary Commission and will run from October 20, 2006 to June 19, 2007. The prosecutor had asked for a two-year suspension after wiretapped telephone conversations with ex-Milan referee liaison Leonardo Meani. Paparesta was also punished for failing to report an incident that followed a Reggina-Juventus match in 2004-05. Former Juventus director general Luciano Moggi locked the referee in his dressing room after Paparesta disallowed a last-minute Juve equaliser in their 2-1 defeat at the Stadio Granillo. He is expected to lodge an appeal.

The CONI conciliation meetings continue to disappoint. Both Lazio President Claudio Lotito and ex-Juventus director Antonio Giraudo failed to reach an agreement, so they’ll move on to the next stage of the appeals process. It’s now believed Giraudo, who was banned for five years, will skip the next phase and appeal straight to the TAR tribunal. “We are determined to go all the way. We’ll go to the civil courts and the TAR tribunal. There are no other possible alternatives.”

President Lotito has pointed out he’ll remain “within the confines of the sporting justice system. The facts will show whether we were right or not, but I repeat that I had nothing to do with this whole situation.” Lotito was suspended for two years and six months, while Lazio were ordered to begin the 2006-07 campaign with an 11-point handicap.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Juve withdraw from civil action

Juventus have dropped their appeal to the civil court against demotion for their part in the match-fixing scandal. The Italian giants were set to appear in front of the TAR Lazio tribunal today, but have now opted to withdraw from going down that path.

The Turin club took the step after a club board meeting which went on for around four hours last night. "The board has decided unanimously to withdraw the appeal it made in the past few days to the regional court of Lazio," a club statement read. "[We will] turn instead to CONI'S court of arbitration."

President Giovanni Cobolli Gigli met FIGC commissioner Guido Rossi and CONI chief Gianni Petrucci in Rome on Wednesday where it seems that the Old Lady were persuaded to reject the TAR Lazio route.

The club have confirmed that they will now meet with CONI’s court of arbitration in a last ditch attempt to have their points deduction reduced or scrapped.

The Old Lady of Italian football were demoted to Serie B, handed a 17-point handicap and were stripped of their last two Italian titles for their part in the scandal.

The FIGC and FIFA had both warned Juventus that they could face further sanctions if they went ahead with civil action and the world’s governing body threatened to throw Italy out of the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

The opening day of the Serie A and Serie B season has already been put back two weeks to 9/10 September as a result of the legal process. The fixtures were released on Wednesday in Rome.

View Juventus Statement here >>>
View New Season Fixtures here >>>