Massimo Moratti, Inter’s CEO; Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia and AC Milan’s CEO
One of the clubs in danger of being relegated is AC MIlan run by ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi, who lost a bitter re-election fight against Romano Prodi. Members of Forza Italia, Berlusconi’s party are now asking for soccer amnesty, the initiative for amnesty comes from Mauricio Paniz, an MP of Forza Italia and a Juventus supporter. Now that the Azzurri have reached Sunday’s World Cup final, the pressure for a reprieve from supporters of the clubs involved is likely to increase. Thirteen of the 23 Italian squad come from these clubs, with Juventus and AC Milan accounting for 5 each.
The special prosecutor, Stefano Palazzi has recommended that Juventus be relegated to the third tier of the Serie and AC MIlan, Fiorentina, and Lazio to the second division. This has led to a bitter dispute involving Berlusconi who is casting this as a Juventus scandal, having little to do with AC MIlan. He is demanding that Guido Rossi, the emergency chief or the Italian football federation (FIGC), strip Juventus of the two Scudetti that they have won the last two seasons and give them to AC MIlan.
Inter MIlan’s chairman, Massimo Moratti and a friend of Romano Prodi, is irate, and has staked his claim to the Scudetto, as the third placed team in the Serie. If Juventus is stripped of the title and AC Milan is penalized points then Inter stands a good chance of getting the Scudetto after having played second fiddle to arch rivals AC Milan and Juventus in recent years. Massimo Moratti is amongst the few in Italian soccer respected for their honesty and integrity. He is also well known in the world of soccer philanthropy.
This scandal might be Moratti’s big ticket out to re-establishing Inter supremacy. Inter is acquiring Italian hero Fabio Grosso, Ronaldo, and possibly Luca Toni. His reaction to the Serie scandal, “What do you think of a Serie A without Milan and Juventus? Would you be nostalgic?
“No, I certainly wouldn’t feel nostalgic.”
The Sports Minister, Giovanna Melendri has ruled out any amnesty for the clubs implicated in the scandal. “It is stupid to talk of an amnesty. Soccer needs major reform, ” said Melandri. “The national team’s matches are one thing, the sporting trials are another. Let’s keep them separate.”
There might be an element of political payback for the Prodi government going after a Berlusconi enterprise. But the larger picture of cleaning up Italian soccer is a welcome step. With Silvio Berlusconi at the helm as the PM, and a vested interest in his club AC Milan, he with his party members would have probably used the feel good story of the Italian squad as a ruse not to proceed with the investigation.