By Carlo Garganese
On June 15, 2011 the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced that former Juventus directors Luciano Moggi and Antonio Giraudo would be banned for life from any football-related roles in Italy. Within cyber seconds the hysterical frenzy of online websites, blogs, forums and social media registered huge increases of confused and ill-informed posts from followers who have yet to truly understand what really happened and what it means.
This was not a new decision based on a new proceeding, nor the confirmation of previous charges. To fully comprehend the current situation and dispel many of the misconceptions, it is necessary to take a step back and do a little Calciopoli review.
In the summer of 2006, after three weeks in a sporting tribunal, it was determined that Moggi and Giraudo would be suspended for five years with an option to extend the ban to life at any point within these five years.
The sentence itself was attached with an explanation that can still be downloaded from the FIGC website in their archive section. It stated perfectly clearly that no Article 6 violations (match-fixing/attempted match-fixing breaks the sixth article of the sporting code) were found within the intercepted calls and the season was fair and legitimate, but that the ex-Juventus directors nonetheless demonstrated they could potentially benefit from their exclusive relationship with referee designators Gianluigi Pairetto and Paolo Bergamo. There were, however, no requests for specific referees, no demands for favours and no conversations between Juventus directors and referees themselves.
It is important to stress at this point that so ignorant are many sections of the world media that 'Moggiopoli' is still referred to by so-called journalists as a "match-fixing scandal" when even the original sentence ruled that Moggi neither fixed nor attempted to fix games.
In the wake of this sentence, two other accusations surfaced against Moggi. It was alleged that the Siena-native controlled the GEA player agency (a consortium of football agents and managers) and could therefore dictate who played where, and that he also maintained a secret web of communication for him and his cohorts utilising foreign SIM cards.
Juventus’ chief attorney Cesare Zaccone prepared an appeal for the civil courts, but the club was pressured into retracting it by Fifa and Uefa as it would have impeded continental play. Thus the team were relegated.
Moggi | Handed a lifetime ban this week despite a string of civil trial victoriesIn an unrelated charge, Moggi was handed a one-year suspended sentence for the transfers of two players (Manuele Blasi and Viktor Boudianski) by threatening to leave them rotting on the bench if they didn't accept sales terms. Blasi has since confessed that he was not influenced to do anything against his will and Moggi is appealing the verdict.
In the five years that have proceeded since the sporting tribunal, Moggi has gone through four separate civil trials concerning Calciopoli, the three thus far concluded having all resulted in Moggi victories – dismantling the allegations of a secret web of communication utilising foreign SIM cards, player agency control, and accounting fraud.
The most significant trial is still ongoing in Naples, dealing with Association for Sporting Delinquency. Both Moggi and Giraudo possessed the option to defend themselves or accept a direct verdict that would not allow for the introduction of new evidence. Giraudo opted for the direct verdict and was slapped with a three-year sentence based on evidence from 2006. Dumbfounded, he immediately launched an appeal in which new evidence will be utilised. Moggi instead chose to defend himself and just over a year ago made a significant breakthrough.
The prior trials discredited claims (still bandied about by those who have done no research into Calciopoli) such as:
- Locking referees in dressing rooms
- Controlling referee selection processes
- Influencing referees
- Lavish gift-offerings
- Player agency control
- Accounting fraud
- Undetectable web of communication
- Direct referee contact
- Match fixing
- Attempted match fixing
- And many more
None did, until a year ago.
In a series of consistent courtroom releases, Luciano Moggi’s defence team unravelled not tens, not hundreds, but thousands upon thousands of calls between the referee designators and the directors and/or coaches of every team in Serie A and beyond, including Inter. All during the same “incriminated” period that saw Juventus punished. The code of conduct in 2006 did not oppose dialogue between designators and directors; in fact the league officials encouraged it in order to maintain good relations between teams and the AIA (Italian Referee Association).
The calls themselves, as a result, were not always incriminating but their mere existence meant that the theory of Juventus’ “exclusivity” could no longer hold. Up until that point nothing directly incriminating had ever been heard by any director. The new calls that Moggi’s lawyers released, however, were full of other directors making referee requests, direct referee contact, proposals for secret meetings between referees and directors in closed restaurants and banks, and so on.
This was important for two reasons. The only remaining argument (exclusive rapport with designators) in defence of the sporting tribunal’s decisions of 2006 was dismantled and for the first time credibility shifted in favour of those who had claimed that Moggi, Giraudo and Juventus had been the victims of a witch-hunt.
If all these calls were recorded together...why then did only Juventus-related calls (and few others) wind up in the sporting tribunal? Why were the calls of so many other teams hidden for five years?
Out of a courtroom in Milan in late October of 2010, in an industrial espionage case against Telecom Italia, even further credibility to the notion of the witch-hunt was provided by none other than Marco Tronchetti Provera (Pirelli president, Inter director, former Telecom-TIM Italia director), who confirmed the statements delivered by Caterina Plateo (former Telecom employee) in her testimony that the company was spying on members of the football realm on behalf of Inter.
These revelations were brought to the ongoing Naples trial against Luciano Moggi, and when Calciopoli’s chief investigator Col. Attilio Auricchio was cross-examined by Moggi’s lawyer it was revealed that he had in fact tampered with evidence prior to handing it over to the sporting tribunal in 2006. He did this by pulling out the thousands upon thousands of calls made by directors and coaches to referee designators that would have shown no one had an exclusive relationship.
|Moggi's lifetime ban calls into question yet again the integrity of Italy's football federation that has no qualms about making hasty decisions based on discredited & manipulated evidence
This brings us to Moggi's recent lifetime ban decision, what it means and why it is possible.
With the Naples trial set to conclude very shortly, serious questions were directed at the FIGC as to whether it would be beneficial to wait for this trial’s conclusion in Naples before rendering their own decision. The FIGC responded with haste on June 6, 2011, stating that their judgment needed to be made immediately and that it would not be taking into consideration ANY of the revelations made in the civil trials succeeding the sporting tribunal of 2006. In other words, the decision to extend Giraudo and Moggi’s five-year bans to lifetime bans was determined based on evidence that had been discredited and admittedly tampered with.
The reason this was possible was because the option to extend the suspension did not require a retrial. No one could force the FIGC to pour over five years of civil court revelations, and thus with one stroke of a pen five-year bans became lifetime bans. Moggi has claimed that he is taking his appeal to the Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) whose board members have already expressed interest in revisiting the entire Calciopoli case.
What does this mean to fans of Serie A?
Virtually nothing, to be brutally honest. One must consider that at the tender age of 74 it is unlikely that Luciano Moggi is looking to re-launch his career and even if he were it would not be at Juventus given his bitter rivalry with current Fiat kingpins John Elkann and Luca Cordero di Motezemolo. Were Moggi to succeed in higher courts the likelihood of a football return or a Juventus return stretches one’s imagination to Alice in Wonderland proportions.
What this has done, though, is call into question yet again the integrity of Italy’s football federation that apparently has no qualms about making hasty decisions based on discredited and manipulated evidence. One should also probe the federation’s sudden urgency to conclude a case a month early when so many other FIGC proceedings are still pending action or have simply fizzled away.
Genoa president Enrico Preziosi’s five-year suspension could also have been increased to a lifetime ban after his confessed fixing of the 2003-04 Serie B season, yet it died on a vine. Why could this be? His subsequent sales of Diego Milito and Thiago Motta to Inter while serving his suspension (rendering them illegal) is also still “under review” despite the dates and ink on their contracts being well documented. Surely these behavioural fluctuations are not passing unnoticed by the public?
The damage seen today is more self-inflicted than initially thought. Considering that this recent decision arrives in the wake of an Italian football betting scandal, casting yet another cloud over the FIGC's ability to keep its product clean, the federation may well have missed an opportunity to clear its own name…let alone Luciano’s.
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