Calciopoli - the Serie A scandal

Everyone in football seeks to win and every individual uses the legal means available to them to achieve that objective, but there have been cases where some people involved in some way in the world of football have tried to obtain some kind of advantage in the parties to obtain some benefit, mainly in financial terms.

Possibly the most famous case of the last couple of decades occurred in Italy in the mid-2000s and was called Calciopoli.

2006 FIFA World Cup

July 4, 2006 was a bittersweet day for Italian football and would extend it to Italy as a nation, knowing how important this sport is for the country of the boot and that day, the Italian national team was in Germany playing the FIFA World Cup, in the semifinal instance and with the local side as a rival. The match brought together players of the stature of Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Michael Ballack or the upcoming top scorer in World Cup history, Miroslav Klose on the German side while Italy had Andrea Pirlo, Francesco Totti, Gianluigi Buffon and the future Ballon d'Or of that year, Fabio Cannavaro.

The game was very even to the point that the initial scoreless tie could not be broken, leading to extra time. In this instance, both teams created many scoring chances, but the tie remained and in 119th minute, when it seemed that everything was ready for penalties, a corner kicked by Del Piero was cleared by the German defense and the rebound reached the feet of Pirlo, who saw what few were seeing and filtered a pass that flew between several Germans so that Fabio Grosso could score the 1-0.

Grosso's celebration became iconic due to the emotion and surprise of the player himself. A minute later, a counterattack that Gilardino handled was magnificently defined by Del Piero to confirm Italy's qualification to the World Cup final.

Juventus flag
Juventus - the club that got hit hardest by the Calciopoli

The verdict

That same July 4, 2006, the Italian Football Federation publicly announced the punishments for Juventus, AC Milan, Reggina, Fiorentina and Lazio after an investigation found that intercepted telephone conversations in which these clubs maintained constant contact with Pierluigi Pairetto, who was in charge of appointing the referees, to locate referees with favorable tendencies for some important matches of these teams during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. Although this activity is illegal, no evidence was found of any direct match fixing.

The investigation begins around Juventus, specifically in two of its main leaders, Luciano Moggi (general director of Juventus) and Antonio Giraudo (administrator of Juventus) and from the calls they had with Pairetto, begin to find the relationship of this with leaders of other clubs.

The punishments

Those involved as referees and managers were each penalized based on how involved they had been in the case according to what was indicated by the investigation and as a consequence, the clubs whose managers were part of the case also received their respective sanctions, both sporting and economic. The sanctions of the clubs were the following:
  • Juventus: The club most affected and the main one involved was Juventus, who were relegated to Serie B, starting with 30 fewer points and were stripped of the Serie A titles for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, being ranked 20th in the latter season. The 2004-05 title was forfeited while the 2005-06 season was awarded to Inter Milan, who were next in the standings and had not been involved in the case.
  • AC Milan: a deduction of 44 points was made in the 2005-06 season, leaving them out of the UEFA Champions League and 15 points less in the following season.
  • Fiorentina: it was ruled that they would be demoted to Serie B starting the season with 12 fewer points and they would not be able to participate in the UEFA Champions League to which they had qualified in the 2005-06 season, prior to the sanctions.
  • Lazio: They were also relegated to Serie B starting with 7 fewer points and could not participate in the UEFA Cup.
  • Reggina: would start the following season with 15 fewer points.

After a series of appeals and judicial processes, the sanctions to the clubs were reduced, remaining as follows:
  • Juventus: the relegation to Serie B would be maintained, although the points deducted to start the following season would become 17 points and then they would remain at 9 points. The stripping of both titles would also be maintained.
  • AC Milan: The reduction of points for the 2005-06 season was 30 points, which would allow him to participate in the UEFA Champions League, although starting from the previous phases. In the 2006-07 season, they would start with 8 fewer points and a home game behind closed doors.
  • Fiorentina: They would be relegated to Serie B, although they would start the following season with 15 fewer points with two home games behind closed doors and would be left out of the UEFA Champions League.
  • Lazio: They would also be relegated to Serie B, although they would start the following season with 3 fewer points and two home games behind closed doors. Additionally, they could not participate in the UEFA Cup.
  • Reggina: They would start the following season with 11 fewer points and a penalty of 100,000 euros.

To this we must add the sanctions suffered by the people directly involved in the case in July 2006, although the final sentences were handed down in November 2011. Among the main parties involved were Pierluigi Pairetto, who received a 42-month sanction outside of any related activity with professional football and 16 months in prison, Luciano Moggi would have to spend 5 years out of football and 64 months in prison, Antonio Giraudo with 5 years out of football and 36 months in prison and the referee Massimo De Santis, who received a sanction 4 years out of football and 23 months in prison. In total there would be 22 people sanctioned between referees, club managers and leaders of the Italian federation.

All these sanctions had their consequences at the sporting level, being the relegation of Juventus the one that brought the greatest impact in the world of football since players like Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson left the club to accompany Fabio Capello at Real Madrid, who also left the bench of the bianconneri team. Gianluca Zambrotta and Lilian Thuram went to FC Barcelona and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Patrick Vieira joined Inter Milan. These last two moves marked the start of a turnaround that would see Inter win four consecutive Serie A championships, ending with a treble in 2010.
Kelvin Tingling knows most things about football and also likes to write about it. Kelvin lives in Buenos Aires and his favorite team is Boca Juniors.