For the first time in my life, I asked myself the following question: Should I continue being a Juventus fan?
While this doesn’t mean that I’m going to quit being a Juventus fan tomorrow, the mere fact that I even considered the possibility of ending my affinity for Juventus shows how deeply concerned I am about things happening at the club. Funny enough, at the moment I can’t complain about what’s happening on the pitch (in the league, at least).
No, this time it’s about the crisis that the club is in after the entire board of directors resigned and the investigations into Juventus’ alleged financial mismanagement have become very serious.
But, before we get into the doom and gloom off the pitch, let’s look at what happened on the pitch in November.
A Jolly Time
We started the month with a home game for the sixth and final matchday of the UEFA Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain. After our utterly dismal campaign in the tournament this season, all we had left to play for was a spot in
Sergio’s favorite tournament the Europa League. PSG and Benfica were still battling for who would finish in first place in Group H.
Just like in the first game against our French opponents, Juve fell behind due to a moment of individual genius by Kylian Mbappe. The French superstar completely bamboozled Federico Gatti — despite the defender’s best attempts to tear Mbappe’s shirt off — and skipped past Manuel Locatelli’s sliding tackle, then fired a powerful shot past Wojciech Szczesny in goal. Some players truly can decide a game on their own in the blink of an eye.
But Juventus fought back and was arguably the better side in the first half. A nicely worked move resulted in Juan Cuadrado heading the ball down for Bonucci to finish past Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal, despite the Italian goalkeeper being millimeters away from intercepting the pass.
Unfortunately, the positive performance against a superior opponent wasn’t enough to secure the victory. Just seconds after replacing Juan Bernat in defense, Nuno Mendes turned on the turbo to zoom past (the also quite fast) Cuadrado and receive Mbappe’s through ball. Despite the tight angle, he fired an impressive shot past Wojciech Szczesny into goal to score what ended up being the winner: 2-1. But thanks to the late, remarkable goal blitz by Benfica against Maccabi Haifa, the Portuguese topped the group thanks to the goals scored tiebreaker and PSG ended in second. Football, bloody hell...
But there was no time to mourn about how insignificant we’ve become in European football because another big game was next on the calendar: the Derby d’Italia against our good friends Inter. Thankfully, Juventus finally managed to beat a big team again. While Inter admittedly had the better of the first half and probably deserved a goal for their efforts, Juventus came to life in the second.
Led by the fantastic (man of the match?) Filip Kostic, the Bianconeri took the lead early in the second half through a difficult but well executed finish by Adrien Rabiot. Brazilian defender Danilo then score the team’s second goal from a corner kick, but it was disallowed for the harshest of all handballs seen in a long time.
But that setback wasn’t enough to kill Juventus’ spirits. The team doubled the lead after another blistering counterattack led (again!) by the brilliant Kostic and finished by Nicolo Fagioli, scoring his second ever goal for the senior team. Another clean sheet, a fourth consecutive victory, and finally a win against a top team!
An away game against Hellas Verona was next on the calendar. As I expected, it was a painfully boring game with only two noteworthy events: Moise Kean’s third goal in four games and Alex Sandro’s last man foul on Kevin Lasagna that almost certainly prevented a Hellas Verona equalizer in the 91st minute. It was such an important tackle that even Max Allegri recognized that it was as valuable as a goal.
In the final game before the World Cup break, Juventus faced Lazio in another top-of-the-table clash. And just like in the second half of the game against Inter, the Bianconeri were absolutely imperious. Defensively solid and ruthless on the counterattack, Juventus limited the fourth-highest scorers of the league to barely any chances during the game. Two goals from the red-hot Kean and a late goal from the surprisingly useful Arek Milik (from a Chiesa assist!) propelled Juve to a very impressive 3-0 victory. The win allowed us to jump our opponents and solidify third place in the Serie A table.
Juventus Women had one of the most challenging months they’ve had in their short history. It started with the Supercoppa loss against AS Roma, who also happen to be top of the Serie A table. Roma took the lead early in the game through Valentina Giacinti but Juventus fought back and got the equalizer on the hour mark thanks to Lisa Boattin’s goal. Those were all the goals we would see for the rest of regular and extra time, which meant that it was time for a penalty shootout to decide the winner of this Supercoppa encounter. Alas, it wasn’t to be as Roma won 4-3 on penalties, with Cristiana Girelli and Sofia Cantore missing their crucial spot kicks.
The next game, away against Parma, was also quite the challenge as the team fell behind in the 19th minute and looked to be heading for another loss until Lisa Boattin and Sara Bjork Gunnarsdóttir both scored a goal in second half stoppage time to miraculously snatch a victory for Juventus in the dying minutes of the game: 2-1!
The team then welcomed European heavyweights Arsenal to the Allianz Stadium for Matchday 3 of the Champions League. It’s in games like these that we get to see if Juventus is closing the gap with the big teams in Europe or will continue to be a big fish in a small (domestic) pond. And, based on this game, it looks like things are headed in the right direction.
Lineth Beerensteyn fired Juventus into the lead shortly after half-time before her compatriot and star Arsenal player Vivianne Miedema equalized with a header from a corner. Final score: 1-1. The Bianconere remain in good shape to qualify for the quarter finals of this year’s Champions League competition.
Back in Italy, though, Joe Montemurro’s team dropped further behind league leaders Roma after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Como. The Canadian midfielder Julia Grosso opened the scoring in the 21st minute but Chiara Beccari equalized in the 68th minute. The result means that Roma extended their lead to six points at the top of the table.
The shame (?) of being a Juventino
Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the crisis at Juventus after the entire board resigned. As Sam mentioned in his recent article, there’s a lot that we don’t know at the moment, so I’m going to be careful when discussing this topic.
The general feeling I get from this entire crisis is one of shame. This club has been drowning in controversy for decades, from the 1996 Champions League doping scandal to the traumatizing Calciopoli case (which, of course, was something in which more clubs than just Juve were involved) and the recent double scandal of the “plusvalenza” investigation and financial scandal regarding the under-the-table payments of players’ salaries during the pandemic.
As Hunter mentioned in his recent piece, it’s fair to say that the damage to Juventus’ reputation and, better said, “brand” is almost beyond repair. I hate to admit it, but it’s to the point that I’m embarrassed to say that I’m a Juventino. While the investigations are still ongoing and no final verdict has been reached, it’s quite obvious that the club has done some very shady stuff. Whether they were illegal or not, they were clearly unethical to the point that I can’t morally defend the club’s actions when people ask me what I think about the situation.
I always liked the movie The Social Network and one of the last scenes of the movie always stuck with me. When Mark Zuckerberg, played by the actor Jesse Eisenberg, talks to his lawyer about settling the case regarding his ownership of Facebook, she talks to him about how a potential court case would go and the questions he might face in trial. She asks him about why he wasn’t at a sorority party where the police was called to:
Mark: “You think I’m the one that called the police?”
Lawyer: “Doesn’t matter. I asked a question, now everyone is thinking about it. You’ve lost your jury in the first 10 minutes.”
Even if Juventus’ actions are technically found to be legal, the truth is almost irrelevant at that point. The police has asked the question of whether the club has purposely cooked the books and misrepresented players’ true values, so now everyone is thinking about it.
People are, once again, questioning the moral fabric of the Bianconeri, asking if Juventus is a corrupt club and, if so, how corrupt it is. We’ve lost the public battle already and for someone who is as obsessed with the “brand” of Juventus, Andrea Agnelli should be the person most concerned about this.
To return to the opening paragraph of this article: don’t worry, I’m not quitting as a Juventus fan. But I have asked myself whether I can justify to continue supporting a club that doesn’t seem to be aligned with my morals and values. Sure, no club is perfect and I’m not so naive as to think that there’s one club in the world that commits no sins at all. And if such a club does exist, it’s probably an amateur club that consists of middle-aged dads who are software engineers by day but occasionally kick a ball around after the 10th Zoom meeting of the day with corporate management.
But to be repeatedly involved in scandals is not a coincidence anymore. So while I remain a Juventus fan, I’m a reluctant and slightly ashamed one.