22 December, 2012 - 13:56

Italy faces further drop in FIFA rankings as Calciopoli chaos continues

Italy faces further drop in FIFA rankings as Calciopoli chaos continues

Unfortunately the mafia traditions remain strong in Italian society and it is no wonder that mafia octopus has its tentacles entwined around the most popular game in the country. For the last 32 years Italy has faced four massive scandals that shook the Italian football to its foundations. Those scandals are the ramifications of the clan wars to carve-up huge Serie A profits. All the sport figures involved in the match fixing incidents are usually publicly exposed persons. That is why the internal squabbles between the clans usually lead to high-profile cases. As a result Serie A becomes increasingly associated with the match fixing and betting scandals.

The latest juicy scandals Calcioscommesse (2006) and Calciopoli (2011-2012) have hurt a lot of people (Giuseppe Signori, Cristiano Doni, Adriano Galliani and Mauro Bressan to name a few) and damaged Serie A image around the world, but the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and the president Giancarlo Abete seemingly did not care about it. This can be best illustrated by Abete’s reluctance to change Serie A regulations written in 80s after two Totonero (1980 and 1986). However the sands are running out and world football is changing. While the Italians go around in circles, other countries’ football leagues are growing in strength. Ten years ago Serie A has been the strongest football league in the world football, but in the near future it may drop to the sixth place in FIFA world rankings.

Calciopoli led to the demonization of Juventus director Luciano Moggi perceived as octopus whose tentacles slithered into all calcio’s ins and outs. He was accused of match fixing, making corrupt payments, intimidation of players (e.g. Miccoli) etc. However such an image created by the Italian pundits raises some doubts, as media exposed the telephone calls between Moggi and the referees shortly after Moggi rejected Berlusconi’s offer to join Milan. The media tycoon possessing almost unlimited opportunities to manipulate the public opinion could have started the entire Calciopoli to expand his area of influence (the motif of personal revenge also should not be ruled out). Maggio himself reiterated that contacting with refereeing designators he was merely doing what others did.

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By a weird coincidence a year ago Inter have also been charged with the corruption and match-fixing; the then Neradzurri director Giacinto Facchetti was also proven guilty of contacting with the refereeing designators. However Inter were not punished as the statute of limitations has expired. In such a way both Milan clubs came out of both scandals smelling of roses, while Juve were pleaded guilty.

The second match-fixing scandal broke in 2011. Matches were fixed in the lower divisions (Serie B and Serie C). As it may seem from the first glance all the guilty parties were punished. Some sides have received sports sanctions while the others faced criminal charges. However Juventus have suffered in this case as well, as their coach has been accused of role in match-fixing saga.

Fillippo Carobbio brought charges against Juventus boss Antonio Conte saying that then Siena coach knew about the fact of match-fixing but deliberatively concealed the evidence from the court. According to Conte’s legal team, Carobbio stuck to the defensive strategy of accusing Conte of participation in the match-fixing in order to try and avoid the criminal charge. At the same time the court ignored the testimony of other Siena players who were supporting Conte to the hilt and accusing Carobbio of slander. As a result Conte received 10 months ban from football. However after two Conte’s appeals against that decision the ban was reduced to 4 months.

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One should not forget about the recent scandal with Napoli which have also faced serious sanctions. In particular Napoli players Gianluca Grava and Paolo Cannavaro were banned for six months by the disciplinary commission while ex-Napoli goalkeeper Matteo Gianello has received 3 years and 3 months ban over the bets placed on a game with Sampdoria two years ago.

In such a way one can make following preliminary conclusions - Juventus has lost the struggle for influence to its neighbors from Milan. For the last six years they were punished twice. Juventus ruined their reputation earned over 100 years as a result of Calcioscommesse. Juve’s young and talented coach has been banned for a long period of time due to Calciopoli. These judgments raise serious doubts as they were rendered in a relatively short period of time. For example it took Turkish authorities numerous months to investigate the recent match-fixing scandal, while the court took rather a hurried decision about Juve’s relegation from Serie A. One can hardly speak about the thorough and just investigation of Caliciopoli scandal, taking into account that Inter have not been punished, despite the fact that their match-fixing role was proven. They have not even been deprived of Serie A title!

The wars led by the clans for the Serie A profits imply that the Italian football officials are preoccupied with anything but the football development. They neither build new stadiums, nor think about the reform of the system of raising young talents. Taking into account financial crisis, rudimentary infrastructure, everlasting scandals and the obsolete Italian football regulations it is not surprising that some of the best football players choose either Spain Primera La Liga or English Premier League over Italian Serie A. Considering all the options available to them the players prefer other national leagues, as in Italy they are offered less money and may be drawn into the legal arguments.

Conflicts between the Italian clans lead to the degradation of calcio, destroying Serie A from within. Should the Italian authorities fail to cope with this situation then Italy’s drop in FIFA ratings continues.

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Author: Basil Naumov

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26 December 2012, 14:14

It's really pathetic, one of the best championships in the world has turned into dirty business of some bosses and Corleone's..

How can you get points off a team (Napoli) in the middle of the season for what two of their players are believed to have done (or haven't done, to be pecise) two years ago? Why two points? Insane...

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