What's going on in the Calcio?
From the NY Times:
Players and managers being threatened and blackmailed; numerous discussions over refereeing assignments before games; the alleged collusion of coaches, federation officials and a popular soccer talk-show host; the blacklisting of those who challenged the corruption; and, of course, the lavish greasing of palms.
The Agnelli family — which owns the Fiat automotive group — is a major shareholder in Juventus. Juventus, the current leader in Serie A, Italy's top division, has been a dominant force in Italian soccer for decades, winning 28 league titles. On Sunday, the team can clinch its 29th.
The investigations, according to news media reports, depict a level of collusion that includes team owners, managers, referees, the news media and GEA World, a company of agents who represent coaches and players and is run by Moggi's son, Alessandro, who is also under investigation.
Prosecutors are alleging that GEA, through its monopoly on players, resorted to blackmail and extortion and exerted a mafia-like control over the league.
The investigations have heightened suspicions among many soccer fans here that Juventus has received favorable treatment from referees over the years.
From Berlusconi's feed by Agenzia Giornalistica Italia:
The Juventus fans feel deprived of their dream. Outrages, let down, furious with the football world, but especially with their club, Juventus, and its top managers Antonio Giraudo and Luciano Moggi, and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Everyone wants to understand how far the situation has gone. In Turin's streets and bars, everyone wonders "how on earth did it go so far? People such as Moggi, Giraudo, Buffon earn in 1 year what people like us don't earn in a lifetime. They should start living with the wage of a worker, a retired person, an employee. They took away our dream of football, a clean football". The people feel a mixture of rage, astonishment and delusion. The most frequent phrase here is 'turn the page'. "Change men and methods, not only at Juventus, but in the entire football world. We must remove all that is rotten. We're sick and tired of fraudsters and cheaters - say some senior citizens - from the football world to the Cirio and Parmalat crashed. These people were depicted as top-notch managers on our papers". Nobody even mentions the word 'champioship', everyone wonders if the 41 people under investigation will become more, if other teams, aside Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio are involved. They wonder what will happen to Buffon and Moggi after they is heard by the attorneys. Nobody excuses anyone.
From the BBC:
Instructions to the referee: "Make sure you see everything. Even that which isn't there."
Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini said: "I won't stay in Italy if the winners of the championship have already been decided before we take the field.
"It wouldn't take much to change things - we need proper rules and honest people. Otherwise we should suspend the championship.
From the Guardian:
Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was questioned by magistrates on Saturday over alleged betting improprieties -- part of a string of scandals which has rocked the nation just weeks before the start of the World Cup.
"...the Italian Football Federation withdrew a referee it was planning to send to the World Cup finals, Massimo De Santis, along with two assistant referees, all of whom are under investigation in the probe."
Ciao Italia! I don't see how Italy's going to have a good summer at the Copa... The Italians have shown us the ugly game - Jogo Feio!
Meanwhile we learn from SI that even the pope is displeased. The scandals were denounced by the Vatican as an "offense to sports'' and an "offense to the joy of childhood.'' Ironically, that last phrase can be applied to the church as well.