clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

"This Reversal of Truth is Shameful"- Juventus, Calciopoli, and where we stand today

If you're a fan of football, you must check out Beyond The Pitch. Without a doubt the premier Podcast on the web currently, they have had famous football journalists such as Gabriele Marcotti and Sid Lowe on the show, and famous footballers like Hugo Almeida, Giuseppe Rossi, and soon to come, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Essien. However, they also have excellent articles on the site too. The following scathing critique of Calciopoli was not even written by a Juventino, but proof that top-notch reporting comes from great writers, regardless of club allegiance.

Anthony of Beyond the Pitch wrote a wonderful article on Calciopoli, and where it stands today. With his permission, I have reposted it below. For all that time, there were few of us shouting about Juventus innocence, I have campaigned as such since starting at this site in 2007, and you will note in the related articles some of the posts we've written in appeal for Juve's innocence. For a while we were looked as delusional fans who refused to accept their clubs guilt, but now, the mainstream opinion is starting to accept the position that at the very least, the trial was flawed.

From Anthony over at Beyond the Pitch:


It may take the FIGC three years to transcribe all 170,000 wiretaps collected from the Napoli tribunal looking yet again into the dealings of Luciano Moggi while he was the general manager of Juventus, but what's at stake may be the truth behind the greatest heist in Serie A history.

"With the utmost respect for the legal proceedings currently in progress, Juventus will carefully evaluate with its lawyers the relevance of new evidence. We wish to guarantee, both in the sporting and non-sporting jurisdictions, the most accurate protection of its history and its fans. Juventus trust that the institutions and justice system will know how to ensure equal treatment for all, which is what the club and its defence lawyers asked for during the trial of 2006."
- The Official Club Statement by Juventus

"Either everyone was guilty or everyone was innocent."
- Luciano Moggi, the controversial and unconventional managing director at Juventus

There are idealists, there are realists - and then there are always opportunists. We are still too mired in the revelations to put all the pieces together and truly understand what really happened in the years leading up to 2006 ... or to fully grasp that the Full Sense of this "national disgrace" and what sporting historians will forever refer to as "Calciopoli" will surface not so much from the content of these wiretaps or even from the result of Luciano Moggi's civil case in Napoli - but more from who really seized the advantage during this period of chaos in World Football's order of things.

Well ... the whole thing has been tossed on its ear from here going forward; it ended this week with all the pomp and pleasure of a doggie obedience school graduation ceremony - erupting once the treats were introduced and scaring the heck out of anyone in range, from those who got just a little too close to the bitching and biting to the collection of "innocent bystanders" who still can't imagine what happened.

And more than likely never will: there is a shrill, empty, tragically spent feeling about this entire affair. Deep within football punditry today is the stench of a monumental battle of wits and purpose that nobody really won, relying more on innuendo and tribal loyalties than actual fact. The gig is up, as they say. And Massimo Moratti has been finally exposed and castrated all at once, but even for the true believers in the Italian Game there is no sudden spark or rank elation in having been proven correct at long last ... starting with the Grand Dumbing-Down of a nation's entire legal system, and which in turn could lead to a big club owner and president being chased out of office with pitchforks and lanterns and cast down into the gutter with the rest of the freaks and common crooks.

"The wiretaps we discovered recently are among 171,000 made by the police and investigators, but they were never transcribed or put into a pattern of evidence. They were never used as evidence in the Calciopoli trial and anyone saying they were is peddling misinformation."
- Maurilio Prioreschi, attorney and key figure in Moggi's defence team.

Looking back at the events of this farce, it is easy to see how Calciopoli was a doomed exercise all along ... or at least from that very moment once former FIGC Commissioner Guido Rossi - a former Telecom Italia (TIM) and FC Internazionale Vice President - unilaterally declared that "contacting a referee designator" was an infraction that could invoke jurisprudence; and therefore, punish a team as if it was attempting to fix a match, even while his friend and business associate Massimo Moratti himself was engaging in this very activity, albeit this was withheld from the court for almost five years. . . . And then the curious matter of Lieutenant Colonel Attilio Auricchio popped up, the authority who was the operational arm of the Naples prosecutor in 2006 and who also arrived on the witness stand with his own outstanding evidence tampering charge from an early 1990s Mayoral Election in Rome. Auricchio was grilled during an intense cross examination which illustrated to the court that "evidence might have been handled in the interest of intentionally depicting Moggi, (Antonio) Giraudo and (Roberto) Bettega as criminal," thus eliminating the possibility of a fair trial in the first place.

Ho, ho, ho ... perhaps something was overlooked?

A boatload of events have been overlooked, in fact. Cast against a vast Technicolor landscape of shady operators - such as Roman Abramovich, who through a tangled web of serious friends gained his fortune from the demise of the state; Silvio Berlusconi, who has been under trial for tax evasion and fraud without mentioning his likely ties to the Mafia; and Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a military coup and tried in absentia for selling national assets to international investors and human rights offenses - enters the intelligent and seemingly reclusive Massimo Moratti. The same Moratti, who as CEO of Saras S.p.A. went into a joint venture with Enron which was later acquired wholly but remains under investigation against persons unknown on a bid for Public Sale and Exchange in advance of the company's listing on the Milan Stock Exchange.

Of course, Moratti isn't the only high-stakes operator who knows how to work the seams and blind spots in the system. Italy has one of the lowest levels of press freedom and among the highest levels of press manipulation in Europe and which would helped Moratti on a number of fronts, both in terms of controlling the message and quashing dissent.

That his crosstown rival, Prime Minister Berlusconi, has maintained an almost airtight control over the media through Mediaset and RAI - and has been considered a "Predator of Press Freedom" by Reporters Without Borders, an organization that consults the United Nations in the matter of press freedom - further defines the level to which conflicting interests could feast upon an exploitable press which existed during the original Calciopoli trials and endures even today.

There were absurd accusations that Moggi had either bribed or locked referees in closets and that members of the Juventus hierarchy were personally handing over the keys to exotic cars to referees on the take - all of which became an entirely sensational series of tales tossed about in an attempt to sell tabloids both within Italy and abroad, yet remained unchallenged until these allegations were tossed out by the Court.

So within days of referee designator Bergamo admitting that he had dinner with Moratti only more questions have been raised, and many are surprised to learn that nobody was ever convicted of fixing a match. Nor are they likely to be at this point given the controversial nature of the evidence, even while looking dead into the cadaver of a criminal conspiracy, simply because stoppage time has been exhausted - meaning, the clock has been run out on the Statute of Limitations and there's no Fergie time.

"I make my accusers look ridiculous and to show everyone what stuff they are made of and what stuff I am made of."
- Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister

Yes, this is a constitutional democracy with its own interpretation of due process, free elections and its own propaganda, as is the case in most Western countries. But what is most peculiar about the Italian model is that its leader is also the owner of four private TV networks and that he, being the Prime Minister, wields great influence on its public TV stations. But do Italians care about the possible manipulation of public opinion or even know the difference? It doesn't seem so. But what the Prime Minister and his vast array of media holdings have created is an almost bizarre form of populism: Where murky situations between the worlds of sport, politics, entertainment and business are accepted and often collide, serving as the canvas upon which Calciopoli was born and allowed to thrive.

The possibility that some of the Supreme Court justices - who The Big Guy himself has railed as "mentally disturbed" and "anthropologically different from the rest of the human race" - might not be so quick to endorse even a shred of immunity for a Prime Minister that runs counter-intuitive to the Italian Constitution or plain common sense is water under the bridge at this point. Independent observers sense that any connection Berlusconi had in this scandal, once amplified by a European tabloid press and already weakened by an ebb and flow of sex scandals, could have far reaching ramifications on the Italian political system itself.

It is still almost impossible to believe, looking at it now, that some of the closest allies and supporters to any Prime Minister of a Constitutional Democracy may actually expect the highest court in its land to uphold what is surely the most discredited precedence in the history of Western legal thought - the unassailable notion that a head of state can never be wrong because he's the head of state - doesn't even pass the Richard Nixon litmus test on political desperation. Even so, the Italian public hasn’t yet registered a ripple of disapproval.

"One of the main points of the prosecution, that [Luciano] Moggi was the head of this organization, has crumbled because so many different [club] directors would call up the [referee] designators. Moggi has a 30-year friendship with Bergamo and the fact he was among those who rang him up cannot be considered evidence of wrongdoing. It’s not up to me to say, but in the light of what has since emerged, I think there is room not just for a procedural change of position, but also a moral one."
- Paolo Trofino, Moggi's attorney in the Napoli civil case.

Indeed. But one should keep in mind that "moral" is a rather flexible term within the world of professional sports these days. With the savage tentacles of "Calciopoli" ready to wrap themselves around almost any living organism in an instant and, given the startling connections between Telecom Italia, the FIGC, the Gazzetta dello Sport (known as "Gazetta dello Inter" by rival news organizations and fan groups) and Massimo Moratti, perhaps Trofino had composed his eminently reasonable legal defense knowing just how "uncomfortable" his words would become once released in print.

calcio3traordinary aspects of the Calciopoli story has been the way not only the Italian but also the World Press has handled it: What started in 2005 as one of the most sensationalized cases of "match-fixing" has clearly developed into what is among the most thoroughly unprofessional covered stories in the history of sports journalism - devoid of thought, reflection, analysis or context. Because to understand what Calciopoli means in the larger picture is to return to its suspicious beginning when former Inter legend Giacinto Facchetti was president of the club (2004-2006) and Gazetta dello Sport, owned by FC Internazionale's Vice President Carlo Buora, acquired transcripts of a series of telephone conversations between Moggi and a number of figures inside Italian football. These tapes, it was later discovered, had been recorded by Telecom Italia and involved not only Moggi but also other officials at rival clubs (Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio) nearly two years prior to the actual Calciopoli allegations. Giuliano Tavaroli, then Head of Security at Telecom Italia (TIM), would be later arrested on charges related to Law 231 for having sold wiretaps of private calls and subsequently admitted that Inter's Massimo Moratti was one of his clients ... yet, even after these so-called "shocking details" were sent to magistrates in Turin, Rome and Naples it was soon determined that no incriminating evidence existed and no action was taken.

"The rules do not ban dinners and a rapport with everyone. After all, the telephone was registered to the Federation. We had a rapport with the clubs also to understand how everyone was feeling about the season. In 2004 I decided to resign. My wife and I invited the club representatives to dinner in Livorno, one by one, from Milan to Inter and Juventus. [Then Inter President] Facchetti accepted the invite and I had dinner with him. There was no dinner with Adriano Galliani because at the time he was President and a candidate to the Lega Calcio position, so he felt it inopportune to take part in this meeting."
- Former referee designator Paolo Bergamo, April 13, 2010

The sole piece of real action in the "Calciopoli" saga was already a done deal - once the original transcripts had been handed over to the Italian authorities for review. The decision to not pursue had happened so quickly that there wasn't even a still photographer to capture the event, much less a swarm of video cameras whose images were destined for the late night news.

And network news divisions are not exactly waiting with baited breath for stories that involve months of dreary investigation and minimal camera time - particularly in that period of time when every major Italian TV correspondent was busy following their real boss, the Prime Minister, as he went on the offensive against any number of scandals or instances of diplomatic outrage by his very comments and hand gestures at members of the European Parliament, comparing the German delegate to a concentration camp Kapo (an inmate appointed as supervisor) and telling investors on Wall Street that doing business in Italy was a smart thing to do because his country had "the most beautiful secretaries in the world." These were great days to be in the news business in Italy and the networks had their top correspondents following Berlusconi's every move. So by the time the initial wiretaps had been tossed out by the court, "Calciopoli" would have been considered an old story and barely newsworthy even if it hadn't turned out to be dead-on-arrival.

"Unless there are some sudden turnarounds, I have already chosen the linesmen for you. We’re sending you Pisacreta, who for us is the number one, and Griselli who has been the number one this season, so you’re completely protected. Come on now, we can do it."
- Referee designator Paolo Bergamo on May 12, 2005 speaking to Luciano Spalletti when he was manager of Udinese on wiretaps.

There may not be much difference between Milanisti and Interisti; many have made this argument - some with considerable venom and disdain, in fact - since the scandals had first broke ... but only a coma patient could detect the differences that exist between Silvio Berlusconi and Massimo Moratti. Naturally, these are wildly successful and driven men who have amassed personal fortunes beyond the horizons of greed; and both are extremely ruthless - but the similarities end right there. From that point on the differences are so vast that anyone who can't detect how each of these men operate deserves whatever happens to The Beautiful Game - and organized sport, in general - should Moggi's civil trial dissolve into an abyss of stupidity, apathy or laziness on the part of those covering the story.

Berlusconi is a hyperventilating form of megalomaniac who first consolidates his power and then strikes back at his adversaries with the grace and precision of a thousand steamrollers powered by nitrous oxide ... he loves the overkill and craves the circus of publicity that it delivers to his nation's TV screens. During the years when "Calciopoli" first broke the Prime Minister had the country in the palm of his hand, tossing down firebombs and crap-storms on friends and foe alike - all the while saddled up next to George Bush and Tony Blair on a bizarre rampage in the Iraqi desert searching for WMD, knee-deep in some deviant form of a Sergio Leone-style Spaghetti Western - but most of that Good Will is gone now and he could never bring it back if he tried.

Moratti, on the other hand, is far more precise and contemplative - but equally treacherous - the type of modern power broker who will employ an army of hard-nosed super-executives who could project manage a Ponzi scheme in their sleep for effect, but would turn on each other like crazed rats in a dumpster fire at the first sign of trouble. He plays deep in the shadows blurring the lines between personal and economic vendettas that get played out in boardrooms and in the fine print of The Wall Street Journal. Even his worst enemies know to lay low while the attorneys and investigators pick over the carcass.

So it should come as little surprise that when his first attempt had failed, Moratti turned to an even more reliable weapon of choice by publishing many of these same transcripts in the media - namely - through the Gazzetta dello Sport which is still operated by RCS MediaGroup ... and it should come as no surprise that a familiar name, Inter's VP Carlo Buora, sat on its board along with that of Pirelli's (Inter's shirt sponsor) before he was appointed as Executive Vice President of Telecom Italia, where the wiretaps had originated in the first place.

"With regards to the Scudetto that was given to Inter on the table, I said it in times when there was no suspicions, it was a grave political sports error by Guido Rossi. I am sure that if the judges in 2006 had this evidence then their decisions would have been different."
- Former FIGC president Franco Carraro, April 12, 2010

That turned out to be Act One in this plot. Act Two ramped up rather quickly as the media frenzy arrived predictably and the FIGC, the Italian Football Federation, was at this point forced to open an investigation. As an important sidebar - which would become even more significant as the bulls-eye fell upon Juventus, then President of the FIGC, Adriano Galliani of AC Milan, was forced to resign because of the club's possible involvement in the evolving scandal and Guido Rossi - a major shareholder in Internazionale, close friend of Moratti and former director of Inter (1995-99) - would chair the commission on Calciopoli. A certain Massimo Moratti also serves on the board of Telecom Italia (TIM) alongside his friend Buora. But the suspicious ties don't end there: Marco Tronchetti Provera, Inter's second largest shareholder to Moratti himself is also the owner of Pirelli, the company that owns TIM (Serie A's main sponsor), and shirt sponsor for Inter.

Act Three - in the event that you haven't already worked out the details in your head - led to Juve's massive point deduction, a mass exodus of many of its best players, were stripped of two Scudetti that were handed to Inter and then relegation to Serie B. Moggi, Giraudo and Bettega never had a chance when their day in court came calling.

Simply put, Telecom Italia (TIM), Pirelli, Gazzetta dello Sport, FC Internazionale Milano and the governing body in control of the investigation were all being directed by the same cast of characters without the phrase - conflict of interest - ever being raised.

After the three week trial, Rossi subsequently resigned from his post as the President of the FIGC to become President of Telecom Italia (TIM) - the company that hand delivered the two-year old transcripts to Gazzetta dello Sport after they had already been tossed out by an Italian court - where he rejoined the familiar figure of Carlo Buora. Giacinto Facchetti's tenure as Inter's president drew to a close upon his death in 2006 and Massimo Moratti was returned to Inter's throne just in time to collect Juve's reassigned scudetti even though not one person has ever been convicted of match-fixing.

"Given the position that I occupy, I cannot consider it opportune to say anything. But I repeat what I already said on more than one occasion. It's obvious that those Scudetti were won on the pitch."
- Fabio Capello, former manager of Juventus who lost two Serie A titles from the Calciopoli trial.

The only people that have spoken publicly about the dire consequences of this resurfacing iceberg right now are those who can't avoid the obvious - Moggi, his defense team and a handful of Juventus loyalists hoping against hope to restore the club's "stolen" titles. Rossi and Buora have remained strangely silent, while Galliani babbles on about nonsense and Moratti hoards his energy for beating back personal attacks leveled at him through the Italian press.


The slow and simmering truth of "Calciopoli" is not that it might grind up a few key power players in Italian football and lead to the reluctant indictment of a vengeful, high-powered thug of a club president whose entire career has been a monument to the same form of cheap shots and deception that he finally got whacked for, but that the rest of the sporting world may fail to learn some valuable lessons from it.

Even now - with the FIGC receiving a mountain of wiretaps and faced with the daunting task of sifting through these intercepts in order to put the contents to paper - there is a groundswell of public opinion that believes whatever Moggi or Juventus may have done, it is probably no worse that what other clubs and their officials have being doing all along, and probably still do.

Anybody with half a brain to damage knows this is not true; but most people seem to think otherwise, even though this raw number of wiretaps is very difficult to ignore. What almost happened here was a 1980's-style hostile takeover and near destruction of Serie A as it was once known - and perhaps it is being saved by one its darkest figures in Luciano Moggi - not unlike what Jose Canseco did to Major League Baseball with his tell-all revelations on performance enhancing drugs, the league's silent endorsement of their use, the MLB player union's willingness to use testing as a bargaining chip and concealing the names and, which led inexorably, to an erosion of the public trust. That it came down to this and resurfaced again just before the 2010 World Cup is remarkable; that it took nearly four more years to unravel: how a ruthless gang of cold-blooded industry leaders and con-artists on the take, so bent on running a national treasure into the ground for the mere sake of tasting a success that had long eluded them and couldn't even take the time to cover up their tracks ... which seems to explain, among many other things, why Italian football really found itself in decline and why most of the footballing world is regarded as a truly corrupt enterprise even when nobody was judged guilty of a crime.

"This Reversal of Truth Is Shameful."
- Massimo Moratti, owner and President of FC Internazionale Milano.