The Greatest Scandal in Football History.
Hannah takes a look back at the Calciopoli Scandal, one which left Juventus in Serie B and destroyed the reputation of the top flight of Italian football.
At the end of the 2005-06 football season, Juventus, the most iconic football club in Italy got relegated from their topflight, Serie A, but it was not due to their on-field performance but instead after being accused of having referees in their pocket, manipulating results in a scandal which shocked the world of football.
Since the 1950s the team in black and white has become one of the most recognisable football clubs in the world dominating the Italian league with 36 Serie A titles. Giorgio Chiellini, Pavel Nedved and Gianluigi Buffon are just a few of the talented names that have worn the strip for the side based in Turin but in 2006, The Calciopoli Scandal broke out revealing the deep corruption and match fixing spread across the league.
So how did the most successful and important club in Italian football get relegated to Serie B for the first and only time?
It began in September, 2004, when the police in Turin received a tip off that there was a group called the Roman Posse who were corrupting football at Italy’s highest level. A top-secret team was established which meant that several top figures and officials at the top of Italian football all had their phones wiretapped. Throughout the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, the director of football at Juventus, Luciano Moggi, was found to be influencing which referees were allocated their matches as well as other games in the league. Moggi was able to select which referee would choose favourable decisions for his team therefore influencing the results of the games. In addition to hand picking referees for games, after Juventus lost 2-1 at Reggina in November 2004, he also got that referee temporarily suspended after he disagreed with the decision that lead his side to loose. Although these decisions were correct, Moggi had enough influence in the sport to ensure that the Referee Association punished the referee, Gianluca Paparesta.
It is important to recognise that referees have enormous power in football and small decisions have a significant impact on the outcome of a game due to the typically low scoring nature of the sport. Therefore, top officials were aware that the decisions that referees make on the pitch can shape the outcome of a game if not an entire season.
After two years of investigating and collecting evidence, transcripts revealved that Juventus’ general managers Luciano Moggi and Antonio Giraudo had conversations with several officials of Italian football including Paolo Bergamo, the head of the referees association in Italy to influence referee appointments.
The Calciopoli scandal however was not limited to Juventus and it was revealed that a number of other Italian clubs in Serie A such as AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina were also guilty of conspiring with referees and match fixing.
But were the club’s punishments due to their involvement in the scandal?
Clubs other than Juventus were punished by the way of home games behind closed doors, points deductions as well as fines. Juventus, on the other hand, were relegated into Serie B as well as being stripped of the 2004-05 title.
Below is a table indicating the Italian Football Federations punishments for the clubs involved.
|Relegated from Serie A
|Stripped of the 2004-05 title
Downgraded to last place in the 2005-06 season
|-15 points||Banned from the 2006–07 UEFA Champions League
Two home games held behind closed doors
Fine of €100,000 Club president fined €30,000 and banned from football for 2½ years
|-8 points||Deducted 30 points for the 2005–06
One home game behind closed doors
|-3 points||Banned of the 2006–07 UEFA Cup
Two home games behind closed doors
What were the consequences of these punishments?
The relegation of Juventus into Serie B prompted many of their most valued and important players such as Zlatan Ibrahimović, Patrick Viera, Fabio Cannavaro and Lilian Thuram to leave the club. Over thirty other Serie A players who participated at the World Cup in 2006 also opted to move to other European leagues after the scandal. Despite many international stars deciding to leave the club there were some top Italian players who decided to stay at Juventus such forward Alessandro Del Piero, defender Giorgio Chiellini and the world-class keeper Gianluigi Buffon. The footballing world was intrigued to observe how Juventus would perform in their first season in Serie B but the strength of the team was unstoppable in the second division and they only spent one season in Serie B before getting promoted as champions back into the top flight. Juventus reformed their structure and their management, constructing a new stadium and disassociating with the controversial figures within their hierarchy. The 2011-12 season was the first season since the Calciopoli Scandal in which Juventus were crowned champions and that was the beginning of Juve dominating the Italian League winning nine back to back titles. Recently, Juventus have had a more competitive league finishing 4th in both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons after Inter Milan and AC Milan have taken the titles these last couple of years.
To further expand on this article if you want to find out more about the scandal that broke out at Italy’s top flight league then you can watch ‘Bad Sport’ on Netflix which has an episode including interviews with those right at the heart of the operation.
Although The Calciopoli Scandal is not talked about much in the world of football anymore, it is amazing to remember how the topflight of Italian football was plagued with controversy and disgrace just prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Italian football has certainly seen better days since and recently after being crowned the 2020 UEFA European Championship it is certainly a huge disappointment that they will not be present at the World Cup this winter after a miserable qualifying campaign.
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