Calciopoli Debate: It is about time Juventus questioned why they were relegated & stripped of two Scudetti

Calciopoli has dominated the news in recent weeks, and Carlo Garganese believes it is about time Juventus questioned the punishments handed out to them in 2006…
Please note this is a feature-length editorial

On Wednesday afternoon, Juventus issued a statement in which they called for a review of the Calciopoli crisis of 2006.

“With the utmost respect for the legal proceedings currently in progress, Juventus will carefully evaluate with its lawyers the relevance of new evidence,” read the statement on the official club website.

“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.”

Four years ago Italian football was rocked by the Calciopoli scandal. Juventus suffered more than any other team. They were stripped of the Scudetti they won in 2005 and 2006, and relegated to Serie B with a heavy points penalty. After selling off many of their star players and losing out financially and internationally, the Bianconeri have yet to recover.

In light of recent developments, now seems like as good a time as any to recap the last four years of Serie A’s trials and tribulations. The post-Calciopoli era has been one of immense activity, though vaguely discussed outside of Italy.

In the summer of 2006 there was a fairly common theme among football fans and second-hand journalists. This was that Juventus and others were accused of cheating, they were punished, and therefore they were guilty. The logic is overly simplistic and generic.

Four clubs were initially investigated (Juventus, Milan, Lazio, and Fiorentina) and a fifth was attached later based on a loosely related technicality (Reggina). The reasons for the original four being punished were as follows:

Fiorentina: Diego Della Valle (president) attempted to fix a draw with Lazio president Claudio Lotito.

Lazio: Though president Claudio Lotito refused to indulge Della Vale, he nonetheless failed to report the infraction to the FIGC and was therefore punished as well.

Milan: Former director Leonardo Meani was seen as enjoying an exclusive relationship with Referee Designator Pierluigi Pairetto, which (despite no proof of attempted match fixing) may have created an advantageous position for Milan. The team were barely punished because vice president Adriano Galliani maintained in court that he was not aware of the relationship, and that Meani acted on his own accord, and not for the whole club.

: Former directors Luciano Moggi and Antonio Giraudo were seen as having an exclusive relationship with the other Referee Designator Paolo Bergamo, which (despite no proof of attempted match fixing) may have created an advantageous position for Juventus.

This seems to be the subject of much confusion. “What about the Maserati?” “What about the referee kidnappings?” “What about the bribery or referee threats?”

- There were accusations that Moggi had used FIAT and their exotic car affiliates to bribe officials. There were accusations that Moggi had locked a referee in a dressing room overnight for having caused damage to Juventus against Reggina. There were also accusations that Moggi was personally contacting and compensating referees in a financial manner.

These things were largely sensationalistic tales thrown around years ago in an attempt to sell tabloids. They were the quickest topics in court and had no bearing on any verdicts. The “Maseratis” and all other vehicles were shown to have been paid by their actual owners through paper trails, the referee kidnapping was proven false when stadium video surveillance showed all parties leaving on their own accord and at the appropriate time, and at no point does a referee receive a call from either Moggi or Giraudo, nor were there any traces of fiscal activity linking anyone at the Juve camp with referees.

The whole scandal really revolved around three main accusations in terms of Juventus:

1. GEA player agency control.
The GEA Agency was one of many in Italy that represented players and coaches and the accusation was that Moggi could bully the transfer market to favour Juventus (essentially deciding who went where).

2. International SIM cards system used to communicate with referees & officials privately. The International SIM Cards were suspected of being utilized by Moggi to create a secret and untraceable web of communication with referees.

3. Match Fixing/Attempted Match fixing.
The games in the original accusations were few and never stood.

- There was an Udinese match where players were suspected of being suspended at Moggi’s request prior to their match with Juventus. Giampiero Pinzi was one player who was actually fielded against Juve because he had not been suspended at all, and Marek Jankulovski was the other who had correctly received a red card in his previous match for having punched another player.

- There was a Sampdoria match that Juventus had won 1-0 after an offside goal was allowed to stand according to the accusation (the game had actually resulted in a Sampdoria win after midfielder Aimo Diana scored an offside goal against Juventus). The game was quickly switched to another Samp-Juve game where again nothing incriminating was found.

- There was also a Lecce-Parma game that was suspected of being a planned draw but the court determined that Moggi and Giraudo had nothing to do with it and eventually that the game was completely legitimate anyway.

- Another key accusation was that Moggi was capable of selecting referees for his matches and those of others. It would eventually be proven to the Sporting Tribunal that the random draw used to assign referees to Serie A matches was never compromised and conducted in accordance with league rules.

The sporting tribunal never managed to prove accusations 1 or 2 and in fact stated clearly in the verdicts (that the federation have since published) that no matches were fixed or even attempted, effectively relieving the directors of responsibility for accusation 3 as well.

The directors were nonetheless determined to have violated a minor infraction of unsportsmanlike conduct (Article 1) by maintaining exclusive relationships with Paolo Bergamo, which according to the rules of the FIGC could warrant a fine. How the fine became suspensions, title stripping and relegations was another matter.

The newly appointed FIGC Commissioner Guido Rossi (former Telecom Italia and Inter Vice President) decided to make “contacting a referee designator” an infraction (it was not against any rule prior to that) and pool all the phone calls together and form a new infraction that would justify punishing the team as though they had attempted match fixing without there being any conversations to support match fixing or favour requests from the designator.

This decision was the cause of much dispute as the rule never existed and to this day no such guideline exists for pooling infractions together to create a more severe infraction. Needless to say that this pooling of minor infractions was only applied to Juventus and was based solely on the exclusivity of Moggi/Giraudo’s relationship with Bergamo.

This concluded the Sporting Tribunal’s three week investigation. Enter the four year post-Calciopoli era of appeals and Civil Court charges.

For criminal purposes each accusation was handled individually and a separate trial is taking place right now where all three are again combined and called “Association to Defraud.”

In addition to that, Moggi, Giraudo and fellow former director Roberto Bettega (who has since returned to Juventus) were also accused of accounting fraud and a trial took place recently regarding that. This was the only time that Moggi and Giraudo defended themselves together.

In total there have been five civil trials (four concluded) in the post sporting tribunal relegation period.

The results:

Moggi won the GEA trial (point 1) by proving that he had no control over the agency and the agency proved that it conducted its business in accordance with all federation rules. Moggi won the SIM card trial (point 2) after demonstrating that no referees were ever contacted using them and showing that the cards were used to conduct transfer market matters in secrecy. The referee control trial basically was abandoned (point 3) by all because the sporting tribunal itself stated that none existed in the published verdicts (available on the FIGC’s website).

In other words Moggi went three for three. If none of the three elements existed then there essentially couldn’t be “Association to Defraud”. The accusation is now based on three accusations that have been individually dismantled in civil courts. The trial for Association to Defraud is nonetheless occurring as we speak in Naples.

The Accounting Fraud Trial was quick. The defense showed the books and all were acquitted.

Giraudo did experience a set-back. Moggi and Giraudo kept separate council throughout all trials (except the Accounting Fraud). Moggi intended on defending himself to the utmost and clearing his name and that of Juventus. Giraudo was more interested in walking away from the situation and as a result expended little money and/or energy in his defense. His success in the individual trials may have given him a false sense of security.

The individual trials were actual trials where new evidence was permitted and the defense continued to win as a result. In the Association to Defraud trial the defendants had an option: they could indulge in a lengthy and costly defense or opt for the accelerated verdict which could only be based on the evidence that existed at the time of the initial tribunal. Moggi opted for the long trial so that he could present new evidence. Giraudo (convinced by the results of the prior trials thought it was unnecessary) instead opted for the accelerated verdict and was sentenced to 3 years in jail based on old, outdated and discredited evidence. He has since stated that he regrets not investing more effort in his own defense and has launched an appeal meaning he will be able to present new evidence to clear his name.

Moggi is in trial right now and he and his lawyers have been presenting new evidence for months. Several days ago Attilio Auricchio (the police officer in charge of the wires in 2006 who has an outstanding evidence tampering charge against him from an early 1990s mayoral election in Rome) was all but hung out to dry in court over an eight-hour cross examination that showed the court that evidence may have been handled in the interest of intentionally depicting the ‘Triade’ (Moggi, Giraudo and Bettega) as criminal, thus negating a fair trial from the onset. His response: “I don’t remember...maybe something was missed.”

What was “missed” were 171,000 phone calls that prove that the evidence was not total in 2006 and may have been selective. In other words, only the calls that painted an ugly picture for Juventus, Milan, etc. were permitted; those that incriminated other teams like Inter or confirmed Juventus’/Milan’s innocence were potentially removed. This was an argument that the defendants made years ago (Bergamo always maintained that he spoke with all directors and presidents and that he found it suspect that so few were presented to the Sports Tribunal). Today, Bergamo is quoted as saying that he had dinner with Moratti.

The calls that have been unearthed recently show managers and presidents of other teams contacting the very same referee designators that Moggi and Giraudo contacted years ago. Inter’s Giacinto Facchetti and president Massimo Moratti are overheard calling Bergamo and Pairetto, as are other presidents like Cagliari’s Massimo Cellino, Reggina’s Pasquale Foti and Milan’s Adriano Galliani (who had maintained that he was unaware that his assistant Meani had been making such calls and that he never made any himself).

The calls that have thus far been released seem to be of a far more sinister nature than the ones published four years ago. So far, plans for a behind closed doors meeting between Inter’s owner, Inter’s president, and Referee Designator Paolo Bergamo have been published. A conversation between Moratti and Bergamo where a referee is decided upon for an upcoming Coppa Italia match is also present.

It is important to note that Moggi had been accused of selecting referees for Serie A matches but the Sporting Tribunal concluded that the random selection process for assigning referees to matches had not been compromised. The Coppa Italia did not have a random draw process for referee assigning, however, and thus Moratti’s conversation with Bergamo over referee Gabriele’s potential assigning to Inter’s match with Bologna (Inter won the game 3-1 and eventually won the tournament) could very well constitute interference or influence over officiating matters. Another conversation reveals Moratti’s plans to meet with a referee to have a discussion.

These are the few revelations that have thus far emerged but it should be made clear that the courts have been requested to transcribe all 171,000+ previously omitted phone calls and investigate them in the coming weeks.

Something needs to be clarified. This isn’t about dragging Inter through the mud. Such activities would not prove Moggi or Juventus’ innocence. Moggi and his lawyers are attacking the only remaining premise in the Sporting Tribunal’s logic, that of exclusivity.

This is about dismantling the only argument the league had left in favour of retaining the suspensions and revocations from 2006, which was that Moggi/Giraudo had an exclusive relationship with Bergamo. The “just because others did it too doesn’t make it right” argument is entirely true. The federation, however, had admitted long ago that the 2006 calls themselves did not contain incriminating evidence but the fact that only Moggi/Giraudo could call Bergamo was unsportsmanlike and may have created an advantageous position (likewise for Meani and Pairetto). The fact that there is now proof that directors of other clubs (Moratti, Facchetti, Galliani, Cellino, Foti among others) were also calling, eliminates that argument.

If so many directors and presidents were calling because it wasn’t against the rules, then Moggi/Giraudo did not have an exclusive relationship with the designators.

Now one must ask; If Moggi did not control GEA (point 1) then what was Juventus relegated for? If the SIM cards were proven to be for transfer market deals (point 2), then what was Juventus relegated for? If there was no match fixing or attempted match fixing (point 3) according to the sporting tribunal, then what was Juventus relegated for? If directors and presidents of so many clubs were calling the referee designators (the only remaining thing supposedly incriminating Juventus) and no favours were asked of them (so far), then what was Juventus relegated for? Why were Inter assigned a title (2005/06) they did not win? Why were these calls hidden for four years?

Now the mere presence of phone calls is not enough to punish anyone. Remember that it was not against the rules to call a designator. If, however, the calls reveal incriminating conversations (interfering with the assigning of referees or instructing the designator on how his referee should officiate a match) everything changes and yes punishments should occur. At the very least the case should be reopened on the grounds that there is now ample reason to believe that the evidence presented in 2006 was not complete and/or impartial.

What are your views on this topic? wants to know what YOU think…