"Io non rubo il campionato ed in Serie B non son mai stato."
"I don't steal the championship and have never been in Serie B."
- C'é solo l'Inter (the Inter club anthem)
Though the sides have had a very long, very bitter history of run-ins, the stakes have been raised to immeasurable proportions in the past five years, and Palazzi’s words simply bring to a head the deep feeling of hatred that has existed since Juve was first implicated in Calciopoli half a decade ago.
Since the whole case was originally blown open by a series of wiretaps set up by Telecom Italia, the Bianconeri have stood their ground in their belief that they had done nothing out of the ordinary and that Inter was among a number of clubs who would have been proven just as guilty as they were. Their cries of a foul originally fell on deaf ears as the club was demoted to Serie B and forced to start on minus 30 points (later reduced to -17, then -9) for offenses that had never previously been punished with penalties of more than a few points.
Guilty? | Moratti is accused of speaking to referees and referee designators
But finally it seems Juventus is about to be satisfied, with Inter likely to be stripped of the 2006 Scudetto it was awarded retrospectively. Only, how can Juve ever be satisfied? Italian football has changed irreparably in the five years that have followed, and with the Nerazzurri protected by the Statute of Limitations, the loss of the title the club never earned in the first place is the full extent to which it can be punished under Italian law.
It is now Inter’s turn to complain of victimization, with president Massimo Moratti calling Palazzi’s statement an “unacceptable attack” on a club he’ll still claim is innocent of any charge. All this despite the discovery of countless wiretaps implicating him in attempts to influence referee designators, the same charge which resulted in Juve’s demotion, and points penalties for several other sides. There were even Article 6 violations by Inter, AC Milan and Livorno which would have seen the three clubs relegated had they been caught out five years ago, but the FIGC’s ineptitude in dealing with the case first time around has simply created a powder keg.
1st - A
1st - A
1st - A
1st - A
2nd - A
1st - B
3rd - A
2nd - A
7th - A
7th - A
Four/five league titles, two Coppe Italia, three Supercoppe and, most notably, one Champions League crown and Club World Cup later, Inter will start next season in exactly the same position it would have anyway – with a squad built off the back of its position as the top team in Italy that was assumed in the summer of 2006. For Juve, meanwhile, there is the continued struggle to regain its feet five years after the carpet was ripped from under it. The mass exodus of players, the loss of titles, the humiliation of Serie B, the long, difficult road back… none of these things can be reversed.
So while Inter may well be called out as the real bad guy in one of Italian football’s greatest self-implosions, it is Juve which has paid the ultimate price. And Nerazzurri followers will tell you all the while that their good name has been besmirched by their greatest rivals. They’ll continue to sing “Io non rubo il campionato” and will still be able to boast “in Serie B non son mai stato”, however much Luciano Moggi et al question their right to do so.
All of which means there is no going back. This is not racist chanting at Mario Balotelli or Samuel Eto’o. It is not Felipe Melo sparking a 20-man brawl with a crude foul. It is not flares being thrown between home and away sections. Nor is it even Piero Ceccarini failing to give a penalty against Mark Iuliano for a foul on Ronaldo. This is a whole new level. It is the calculated setup aimed to destroy another club... but who are really the victims and who are the transgressors?
They will fight them in the boardrooms, they will fight them in the courts. They will fight them on the pitch, on the terraces and in the streets. The Derby d’Italia is about to go global – all thanks to the mistakes of 2006.Follow Kris Voakes on