Serie A - 15 Years After the Infamous Calciopoli Scandal

Once a star-studded Football League, Serie A fell to its worst lows following the Calciopoli scandal in 2006.

Clubs that were linked with the referee association for match-fixing were top teams like AC Milan and Juventus, strong contenders like Fiorentina and Lazio, and even small teams like Reggina.

Calciopoli was a scandal like no other, even more so considering that Italy won the FIFA World Cup in the same year. Now was the time for Serie A to capitalize on broadcasting, syndication, and sponsorships, but this incident rocked the league to its core.

Juventus being the most penalised of the teams involved, was relegated to Serie B with 9 negative points to start the new season. They were also stripped of their 2004-2005 Serie A title.

Big names like Fabio Cannavaro (FIFA World Cup winner and Captain of Italy National Team), Lillian Thurram, Zambrotta, and many more left Serie A to save their reputations and careers.

It's been 15 years since the Calciopoli scandal. Much has changed in Serie A except for the fact that it is nowhere near to its former glory.

Juventus Regaining Lost Glory

Juventus, despite being hit with the most severe penalties, has been on a successful path of redemption. Many club legends like Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet, and Pavel Nedved opted to stay with the club in their darkest hours and brought the team back from the second division to the topflight of Italian football.

Although Juventus as a club has been doing great, Serie A as a whole is still yet to recover and regain its popularity. Napoli and Roma creating exciting moments along with Juventus in the Champions League has given some momentum to the league's popularity, but Serie A viewership still needs improvement.

That all looks to change as the leadership and management at the heart of the Old Lady led to the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo's arrival showed the intent of Juventus to achieve their dream of winning the Champions League after getting so close in the past few seasons. This sparked a surge in viewership of the Serie A, giving more exposure to the league.

The Fighting Spirit of Inter Milan

Inter Milan (Internazionale) is an example of a club that was hit more by the economic crisis than the Calciopoli incident. During their difficult period, Inter managed to produce a magical season and won the treble under Mourinho. Wesley Sneijder, being the best player on the planet in 2010 and a World Cup finalist, lost the infamous Balon d'Or to Messi.

People call it the robbery of the century, but if you analyse the situation, the competition level in Serie A and their already tarnished image played a huge role in the snub. It all came down to popularity and authenticity of the league.

After years of mediocrity, Inter has finally bounced back. It now has a great squad of talented and experienced players including Romelu Lukaku, Christian Eriksen, and Ian Perisic to name a few.

Revival of the Sleeping European Giant

Another good news for the Serie A fans came in the ownership change of AC Milan which brought one of the biggest clubs in European football back from obscurity. The new management understands the history of the club and has appointed the likes of Paolo Maldini to bring the club back to its former glory.

Milan failed to capture the Scudetto for 4 years after the Calciopoli scandal, losing to their rivals Inter Milan. However, in 2011, Ibrahimovic along with a cast of experienced players and young talents managed to capture the Scudetto. This was followed by a few years of upper-mid table performances.

Today, AC Milan is burning with passion and dedication that it was known for. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the wolf pack, millions of fans around the world have regained hope. It feels like a European giant has woken up. A Champions League and/or Scudetto will restore Milan's status as one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Road to Recovery

Coming out of the economic crisis and new found interest of investors in Serie A has helped the league to push things in a positive direction.

Serie A made a great decision to broadcast live matches on Facebook Watch with La Liga also following suit. This has played a major part in increased viewership.

The league's popularity and reach is increasing by the day, but more improvements need to be done in order to make the league exciting and competitive as it was throughout the past decades. Experienced star players and younger, exciting talents are now considering the prospects of joining Serie A to make the league intense enough for the world to not miss, of course this time without a scandal.
Nathan Annan is from South Africa and loves to write, and above all about his favorite sport, football. Nathan's interest in football was sparked late but after watching a few matches in his hometown of Johannesburg during the 2010 South Africa World Cup, he was hooked.