Saturday, February 18, 2012

Campionato Io Ti Amo 2005 2006 , "Il Moggiopoli"

  Fixing a football match is a risky business. Players can be bribed, but things can easily go wrong under the gaze of a crowd and a TV audience. Alternatively, the referee can be offered a backhander. In Italy, there had traditionally been little need to resort to such crude methods. Ever since football became a mass sport in the 1930s, referees have naturally tended to assist the powerful clubs. In the 1960s this inclination was given a name: 'sudditanza psicohgica' psychological slavery. The hegemony of powerful clubs was usually enough on its own to induce favouritism. By the 1990s, as TV money poured into the game and staying in the top rank became an economic necessity, the rich teams - and especially Juventus, the biggest and richest of them all - were no longer content to rely upon 'psychological slavery'. The system they constructed put referees, linesmen, journalists, the transfer market and agents under their control: in this way success was assured. In May 2006, this system was laid bare in what has been dubbed the biggest scandal in the history of sport. In comparison with 2006, those involved in the 1980 Totonew affair were mere 'chicken thieves'. This is the story of that scandal, which has become known as calciopoli.
Juventus are used to coming first. By 1994, the club had won the Italian football championship a record 22 times. Yet by their very high standards they were in something of a slump. One scudetto in nine seasons was not enough to satisfy the team's eleven million fans. Juventus, which was still run by the Agnelli family, owners of the FIAT car company, decided to turn to a man we have met before, whose methods were dubious, even by the standards of the dodgy world of Italian football. Luciano Moggi was the former deputy station master from a small Tuscan town, who had made himself a football power-broker. He was an unimpressive figure with no airs and graces (a bad fit with the aristocratic 'Juventus style') but the club needed to start winning again, and Moggi seemed the most likely man to bring success. Moggi had begun his wheeler-dealing football career in 1973 as a scout for Juve. He then worked for Roma (twice), Lazio, Napoli and Torino. He could certainly spot talent - he discovered Paolo Rossi and Gianfranco Zola - but that wasn't his only appeal. After presiding over the scandal-packed Maradona years in Naples he moved to Torino, where he organized 'hostess' entertainment for international referees before matches. The Agnelli family could have been under no illusions when they hired him. Over the years, Moggi had frequently been caught hobnobbing with referees, usually adopting the time-worn defence of 'we met by chance'. He set up his son Alessandro as an agent, and formed relationships with other agents so that when the Bosnian ruling opened up the transfer market in 1995, he was ready to take advantage. His political friends, especially in the Christian Democrat party (who governed Italy from 1945 to 1992), were many, and included Giuseppe Pisanu (DC deputy from 1972 to 1994 and Interior Minister from 2002 to 2006) and Clemente Mastella (Minister of Justice since 2006). Pisanu had known Moggi for forty years while Mastella said he wasn't ashamed to speak of their friendship and admitted that they had 'met many times'.

In 1994 Moggi became the Administrator and General Director of Juventus (the most powerful position in Italian club football after the President) alongside the chief executive and FIAT boss Antonio Giraudo and former player Roberto Bettega. Together they became known as the triad — a sinister term which was not intended as a compliment. Over the next twelve years, the triad led Juventus to a series of successes in keeping with their glorious history, including seven Italian championships and a Champions League trophy. Their domination was such that they led Serie A for a record 76 consecutive matches. In March 2006 the board of Juventus praised the triad for having 'fashioned a sober and above all a winning model of management'. La Stampa (controlled by FIAT) concluded that 'in an era of financial disaster, the triad is a model of virtue'. Less than six weeks later, the triad had resigned in disgrace, along with the whole Juventus board. The scandal focused on the club's sporting director, and many of the epithets used to describe what had taken place used his name: Moggiopoli, Moggigate, Il sistema Moggi. Soon a squalid system of corruption was to be revealed, built upon 'a cupola of power marked by alliances between the managers of some big clubs, agents and referees', as the Neapolitan investigating magistrates put it. At the head of this sat Moggi, who had reached a position of absolute domination and control of the entire system of professional football thanks to blackmail, psychological violence and above all cohabitations of all kinds. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Moggiopoli worked like this: the championship was controlled step by step, from the transfer market to the goal disallowed at the last minute, from missed offsides to red cards given or not given according to the level of protection which each player enjoyed.

On 5 May four referees were suspended. The following day Luciano Moggi and his son Alessandro were told that they were being investigated as part of a criminal inquiry relating to the 2004-5 season. They were joined by nine referees, eleven linesmen and twenty-one others, most of them football administrators of various kinds. It was suspected that more than twenty games had been 'adjusted'. Franco Carraro, President of the Football Federation, resigned on 8 May. Two days later, Innocenzo Mazzini, his vice-president, also went, to be followed by Tullio Lanese, President of the referees' association. Aldo Biscardi, presenter of the football chat show processo del lunedl, had been forced to stand down after it appeared that even slow-motion replays had been under Moggi's control. Despite the revelations, when Juventus clinched their twenty-ninth championship on 14 May 2006 everything was in place for the usual polished celebrations: the open-top bus was booked and its route through the city mapped out. Thousands of fans had made the trip down to Ban' to cheer on their team. In the stadium, everything went to plan. Juventus won easily, champagne corks popped in the dressing room, and the players threw their shirts into the crowd. Yet the headline in La Gazzetta dello Sport that morning had been unusual: 'They are playing, sort of, it ran, and the next day's was equally strange: 'Juve win their twenty-ninth title ... or not?' In Piazza San Carlo in Turin only a few young and naive fans gathered to celebrate. The city was eerily quiet. No horns were honked, few flags were waved and the open-top bus was cancelled. That same day a tearful Moggi told the press he was leaving the world of football, It had become clear that the clubs twenty-ninth scndetto, and perhaps their twenty-eighth as well (from the previous season), might well be taken away. The celebrations were a macabre ritual. Many Juventini were keeping their heads down. This was best summed up by the republication of a prescient article about Moggi from the 1990s by the well-known Juve supporter Beniamino Placido, who back then had written that 'Juventus fans will try and get by with a frown but they will feel endless shame'.

Moggiopoli dwarfs every other scandal in the scandalous history of Italian football. It involves not only Juventus but AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio. A whole system is on trial, including referees, the selectors of referees, journalists, slow-motion replay experts, policemen, agents, tax police, carabinieri, members of the Agnelli family and even the manager of the national team, Marcello Lippi, How was such an extensive system brought down so quickly? As with Italian politics in the early 1990s, all attempts at reforming Italian football from the inside had failed. Only one body of people was powerful enough to take on Moggi and his cronies: the judiciary. The investigations which eventually unravelled Moggiopoli were intricate and geographically widespread. In 2004, an inquiry into the Neapolitan version of the mafia, the camorra, had uncovered an illegal betting ring involving players and referees, and investigating magistrates had ordered phone taps on Moggi's six or so mobile phones. For eight months, at least six transcribers typed out 100,000 conversations. This material was to provide the bulk of the evidence against all the accused at the subsequent series of sporting and criminal trials. The magistrates were also well informed about past footballing scandals.

One confessed to having read 'all the books written by Carlo Petrini'. In Turin, the inquiry into the doping of Juventus players in the 1990s involved phone taps that revealed further disturbing aspects of the Moggi system. Much of this material had been passed on to the football authorities, who did absolutely nothing. They clearly hoped that the whole scandal would disappear. This time, they were wrong. Investigators in Parma and Udine unearthed evidence of a gambling scam involving Serie A players. In Rome, meanwhile, magistrates were looking into GEA World, a firm of football agents staffed almost entirely by the sons and daughters of powerful people in the soccer world, including the son of the Italian team manager, as well as the children of important businessmen, politicians and bankers. GEA World had been formed in 2004 in Rome from the fusion of two agent organizations. In a short time, the organization managed to take control of a large sector of the football transfer market - as well as trainers and media interests. Many Juventus players were represented by Luciano Moggi's son Alessandro, an agent at GEA, who alone controlled an extraordinary 12.3 per cent of the entire agent football market in Italy (GEA had a share of nearly 20 per cent). Other agents who worked for GEA included Davide Lippi (son of Marcello), Chiara Geronzi (daughter of Cesare, boss of the powerful Capitalia Bank), Andrea Cragnotti (son of Sergio, former President of Lazio and now a bankrupt industrialist), Francesco Tanzi (son of the disgraced and bankrupt industrialist Calisto Tanzi) and last but not least Giuseppe De Mita, son of former Prime Minister and Christian Democrat politician Ciriaco. This grotesque monument to nepotism and patronage was a cancer within the game, with its huge costs and corrupt dealings. GEA dealings often led to ridiculous exchanges of players, or absurd prices being paid, or frequent movements for no apparent reason. In July 2006 in the wake of the scandals, GEA World was effectively wound up and its staff laid off. Each agent was now effectively working alone - at least in theory - the cartel had been closed down.
What did the phone taps and the other investigations reveal? Referees chatting with powerful club presidents, the same club presidents conversing with those who selected and disciplined the referees, the vice-president of the football federation joking with the same club presidents. Everyone was friendly with Moggi - as long as they did his bidding. Most worrying of all were the frequent conversations with the referees themselves. Some were worried, others were proud of 'their work'. Advice was frequently given as to how to referee. In this way, the whole nature of the referee's job was infected. As Tim Parks has written, 'the man's very profession is to be neutral'. In Italy, in 2004-5 (and probably before that, and since), referees were advised not to be neutral - and they seemed only too happy to oblige.

How do these revelations fit with that laid out in Chapter 2 of this book? Clearly, there is a need to draw a distinction between calcic and the transformation to what has been called mo-calcio in the 1990s. Something had gone very wrong in the last fifteen years. Football was not always fixed in this way, and it wasn't completely fixed under Moggi. Not all referees helped Juventus, and some tried to referee normally. The Moggi system was not omnipotent, but it had come close to being so, and it had extended its range of power beyond Juventus's backyard to the whole championship table. Renewal was needed, and quickly. Professor Guido Rossi, a 75-year-old expert on company law and a well-respected 'super-manager', was chosen as temporary President of the Football Federation and soon made a controversial appointment. On 23 May he asked 76-year-old Francesco Saverio Borelli, a retired judge, to take over the investigative wing of the football federation. Borelli had presided over the 'Clean Hands' anti-corruption investigations in Milan which had shaken Italy in the early 1990s. The reaction to Borelli divided Italy along political lines. Silvio Berlusconi claimed that the left had 'nominated its own referee': left-wing opinion was solidly behind the judge. Calciopoli had become part of the general tussle between the economic and political elites and the judiciary. Yet, there was a key difference here: sporting justice requires far less proof than normal justice. In the world of sport, intention is enough to implicate. You only need to discover if somebody tried to influence a match, not that it was actually manipulated. There were no juries, and a streamlined penal process. Sport had its own rules: it governed itself. Borelli moved with great speed, interviewing all the protagonists of the scandal except for Moggi, who refused to turn up. A succession of referees, players, journalists, policemen and judges passed through his offices. Meanwhile, the criminal investigations continued apace in Naples, Turin, Milan, Parma, Rome and Udine.

 The effect of the phone-tap revelations was extraordinary, as they allowed every Italian to understand how power really worked. For once, the mask of arrogance and denial had been stripped away. However, most Italians were not shocked. The affair simply confirmed their suspicions about how the game worked. As one journalist put it, 'it is exactly how we imagined things to be'. Moggiopoli was a triumph for the conspiracy theorists. They had been proved absolutely right. Almost everything had been fixed: victories, defeats, relegation, slow-motion replays, bookings. A number of writers, journalists, analysts and football presidents had already identified the main features of the Moggi system in all their horrific detail - and had been ignored or laughed at for years by the authorities.-8 Many fans had long been convinced that the whole game was rotten. It was a farce, a sick joke. Now they had proof, pages and pages of it. Corruption had become a way of life. But not all fans necessarily disapproved of the way things had been organized. After all, Moggi was a winner and, as declared in the most terrifying and cynical banner displayed by Juventus fans after the scandal broke: 'The end justifies the means'. It was also clear from the outset that this was not a one-club affair, despite Silvio Berlusconi's constant claims to the contrary and his attempts to paint Milan as a victim of Moggi's dealings. It turned out, for example, that AC Milan (Berlusconi's club) had employed a 'referee attache': Leonardo Meani - an ex-Serie C official and restaurant owner - who would phone up officials before and after matches, and appeared able to influence the selection of linesmen for games involving Milan. Now Meani was no Moggi, but he did have a lot of 'friends' amongst the referee corps, and he had a hotline to Adriano Galliani, the President of Milan until 2006. Strong doubts also emerged concerning an end-of-season game between Milan and Udinese, and the transfer of an Udi-nese player to Milan. An alternative network of power seemed to emanate from Milan and its representatives.
There seemed little doubt that an employee of Milan had tried to influence the results of a series of games. Much less had been more than enough to relegate smaller clubs in the past. Berlusconi had also invited Moggi to his Rome residence in September 2005, well before the scandal erupted. Officially, the two had merely exchanged pleasantries. Unofficially, there were strong indications that Berlusconi had offered Moggi a job. Moggi himself said that 'he wanted me to go to Milan' and had replied that he would 'think about it'. Within weeks of their meeting, Berlusconi would accuse Moggi of 'stealing' two championships from Milan. In the black-and-white world of Moggiopoli there was little room for dissent. Those chairmen who railed against the system were forced to grovel, or pay the consequences - relegation, bankruptcy, the application of the rules (but only for them). Sometimes these victims were genuinely trying to reform football, and were relatively honest. Usually, however, they were 'little Moggis' who merely wanted their piece of the action. Very few of these 'victims' were paragons of legality, and it was a fair bet that if they had been in charge, Moggiopoli would have continued unabated. Nobody in their right mind could argue that a renewal of the world of football could emerge via the sharks who had entered the game in the 1980s - Enrico Preziosi, Maurizio Zamparini, Luciano Gaucci, Franco Dal Cin. All of these personalities had been at the centre of their own scandals. All used Moggi-type methods, it was just that they were less powerful than the triad, and ended up squashed. However, these little Moggis certainly knew how the system worked, and if they were desperate, they were willing to speak out.

Diego Delia Valle was a different case. A powerful businessman, he had sorted out Fiorentina's disastrous financial situation and taken the club back to Serie A, and he was a gentleman, as his own phone taps show. However, his campaign around the issue of TV rights infuriated those who ran the game - and they decided to teach him a lesson. The weapons were familiar ones. First, his club would pay, on the pitch. A series of 'unfortunate' refereeing decisions saw Fiorentina plummet down the table in the 2004-5 season. The culmination of this 'run of bad luck' came at Genoa against Sampdoria, where Fiorentina had two men sent off in the first eight minutes. Delia Valle was forced to grovel to the triad, who arrogantly promised him that they would 'save' Fiorentina from relegation. He was urged to phone referee boss Paolo Bergamo. The tone of this call - T didn't even realize that someone could pick up the phone and call you was very different from those between Moggi and Bergamo. A friendly lunch followed. Soon, things got better for Fiorentina on the pitch. A new sacrificial victim was identified - Bologna, whose President Gazzoni had made a point of criticizing those clubs whose financial irregularities gave them an advantage in the transfer market. Meanwhile Fiorentina were 'saved' and they were grateful. They had learnt their lesson and were happy to tone down their campaign for 'changes in the world of football'.
Cover Scan :

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

 Part 6

Part 7

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this remarkable up. And I agree with the write up provided... this is the biggest scandal in sport history.

    Quick question. Is part two Il Campionato Racconta missing?