Was Calciopoli a conspiracy?

Marzia HazraAnalyst INovember 3, 2007

Juventus’ loss at San Paolo to fellow newcomers, Napoli, ended in a scandal. Referee Mauro Bergonzi converted two very controversial penalties in favour of the home team. This is in no way the fir

st time Ranieri’s men have gotten dubious penalties against them this season.

The majority of the referees seem very careful not to give Juventus the benefit of the doubt anymore. Instead it appears when in doubt, it’s better to convict rather than acquit. It seems that Juve are still being punished for their alleged part in the Calciopoli scandal. For this time, referee designator Pierlugi Collina has suspended Mauro Bergonzi for a month due to his lousy performance in the Naples.

I am aware of the fact that the referees may not have replays available, which can generally lead to mistakes. Nevertheless, not to even discuss the situation with the lines-men who were better positioned to see the situation shows something devious.

During the summer of Calciopoli, the Italian newspapers reported a great deal of hearsay, which has been difficult to alter in people’s mind. It’s easier to believe that your team lost because the opponent cheated. Not many are aware of what went on behind the scenes, nor of the fact that Juve was proven innocent in a civil court after the scandal. Does the proud Interistas know the part their club played?

Inter president Massimo Moratti convinced important shareholder and lifelong Interista, Tronchetti – chairman at Telecom Italia and TIM – to illegally record conversations with rival delegates that were to be handed over to Moratti. Tronchetti’s tyre company, Pirelli also happens to be Inter’s main sponsor.

The intention was to hand the tapes over to magistrates to start an investigation against rival clubs. A policeman by the name of Adamo Bove declared the tapes as legit so that they could be used as evidence in court (he committed suicide on July 21 2006). The magistrates in Turin, Rome and Naples found no wrong doing on the tapes.

Since the first plan had not gone as intended, the recordings were handed in pieces to the press in which Inter had invested in (Corriere dello Sport, Contro Campo, Messagero and la Gazzetta dello Sport – also known as la Gazzetta dell’inter by rival fans). The media frenzy that followed forced FIGC (the Italian football federation) to launch an investigation.

Guido Rossi – one of few not implicated on the tapes – was made commissioner and not only controlled the proceedings, but also handpicked the “jury”. He disregarded to tell to mention that he happened to be a major investor in Inter and a former delegate for the club who used to sit next to Moratti during games.

The investigation proceeded and the Guarda della Finanza (Italian revenue agency) was seen entering the Juventus headquarters as well as the home of Fabio Cannavaro and found – nothing.

When the verdicts came, all of the major clubs except Inter got penalized; Juventus’ punishment was the most severe. The club was indicted of “fixing” the following games:

1. Lecce – Parma: this game had absolutely nothing to do with Juventus, but did in fact help Fiorentina survive Serie A. According to the allegations, Moggi controlled referee De Santis. In fact both parties despise each other and De Santis has even admitted to being an Interista. Moggi wasn’t even implicated in the tapes regarding this specific game.

2. Juventus – Udinese: the actual “fixed match” was Udinese – Bologna the week before. According to the allegations, Moggi controlled the referee and demanded yellow cards to be distributed to players who already had bookings preceding the game, thus making them unavailable in the coming game against Juve. The players that were booked in that game was Pinzi and Di Michele, neither of them had bookings prior to the game and were able to participate in the game against Juve the following week.

3. Juventus - Sampdoria: according to the allegations, Moggi controlled the referee and demanded he allow Juventus to score a goal from an offside position to guarantee Juve a 1 – 0 win over Sampdoria. The game ended with Aimo Diana scoring the only goal in that game – standing in an offside position (the score can still be seen on espn.com).

Appeals that reduced the verdict took place, but all competition to Inter was crippled and Rossi’s former employees were crowned champions of Italy the season of 2005/06 – having come in third.

Due to lost revenues on Milan and Juventus’ sides, Inter were in a monopoly position on the market that allowed them to purchase players the other clubs couldn’t afford as well as the players Juve were forced to sell.

After Juve were relegated to Serie B, Tronchetti (chairman at Telecom Italia and TIM) appointed Rossi as vice president of the company.

FIGC realised only too late that Rossi had a conflict of interest and asked him to step down as commissioner. The new Juve delegates attempted further appeals in civil courts to overturn their verdicts, but were blackmailed into dropping it. FIFA announced that it had the option to suspend FIGC, which would freeze all Italian competition (even Azzuri duty) if the appeal took place. Juve had no choice but to drop it.

Some time later a CAF judge, Cesare Ruperto and a civil court judge, Piero Sandulli listened to the appeal and declared the 2004/05 season as legit – with the exception being the Lecce – Parma match (that helped Fiorentina survive Serie A. The judge also concluded the sentences were due solely to the media frenzy along with conflict of interest from Rossi’s side. He also declared that no “Moggi-system” had existed (choosing referees) nor a system of booking (suspending certain players prior to Juve games). He did however state that Moggi and Giraudo’s (general manager at Juventus at the time) actions had created an unsportsmanlike situation that favoured Juventus, which brought their first place into question.

Judge Cesare Ruperto managed to reduce the verdicts; however he was unable to overturn them. Even commissioner Rossi later admitted that no foul play had taken place after failing to prove Lazio, Milan and Juventus of any wrongdoing. He went on to insist that the clubs were in favourable positions and for that reason the punishments would maintain.

The investigation headed by Rossi accidentally went on to reveal that Inter had falsified passports to maintain illegal players in the club as well as participated in fraudulent accounting practises. During the investigation Rossi discarded the evidence of Inter’s wrong doing as “immaterial” to his case and no further investigation was made into it.

In September of 2006, an employee at Telecom Italia, Tavaroli, under interrogation admitted to Inter president Moratti requesting interceptions by rival delegates.

Then referee designator, Bergamo, came forward with information about how Franchetti (late general director at Inter) would often contact him and had even dined in Bergamo’s home on several occasions. During these times he would have certain requests that Bergamo had to refuse due to their unsportsmanlike nature.

My question is, why hasn’t Inter been charged in the matter of; Invasion of privacy by illegally recording private calls and passport falsification to maintain illegal players at the club as well as participating in fraudulent accounting practises? Should the verdict sustain considering the fact that a former Inter delegate had control of the entire investigation and not to mention the jury?

Calciopoli 2 has recently hit the papers in Italy revealing that Moggi used Swiss SIM cards to conduct the calls (making them impossible to trace) which makes all the “incriminating” calls that launched the entire investigation couldn’t even exist in the first place. New reports from the Peninsula are suggesting that more officials and clubs are involved this time, as well as several Juve clashes.

I’m tired of hearing that Juventus has/is cheating. The entire board of directors has been replaced as well as referee designators, not to mention most of the FIGC. The kind of powerful network Juventus had with Moggi has been obliterated.

I’m not saying everything was done by the book in Juventus or in any of the other penalized clubs. However, until such evidence that justifies demoting a club down to a lower division and stripping it of its league titles is presented, I would like to see Juventus and the other clubs that were affected by this absurd trial and its vast effects to be given compensation for lost revenue. In Juve’s case its € 250 million and the two Scudetti that were taken from the club. Furthermore, I think that “innocent” Inter who has so admiringly played by the rules should be looked into for their shady affairs.

It’s easy to see who’s been the main beneficiary from this affair. Let’s for a moment take Calciopoli away from the equation, where would Inter be today?