17 May 2006
Last week saw the surfacing of allegations that Juventus, among other teams were involved in influencing referee appointments in Serie A. Luciano Moggi the director general and Managing Director Antonio Giaraudo as well as the whole board of Juventus and Franco Carraro the head of the Italian Football Federation. Moggi who's been suspected, or known, to be a Machiavellian up-to-no-good-behind-the-scenes sleazeball asked reporters at his first public statement not to ask him any more questions. "My soul can't bear it," he said. "It's been killed." My heart too, bleeds bright red blood for this poor, maligned victim.
The allegations against Juventus and Moggi include not just colluding on referee assignments: they are also being investigated for what we call kidnapping. The occasion where a referee and two linesmen were trapped in a locker room at the end of a game in which Reggina beat Juventus in November 2004 may not have just been the case of a lost key. It's called gangland punishment. A threat and a warning. Anyway if the allegations should be proven the teams investigated (Lazio, Fiorentina, AC Milan and Juventus could all be moved out of Serie A, thus giving AS Roma a spot in the Champions League.
But the real scandal here is that this country allows this activity to carry on for so long. Juventus has been suspected of machinations for many many years, but nothing has happened until now. But it's not surprising in this country that has strong underworld, off-the-book, business economy, a passion for the sport of football, and a code of honour that only tangentially involves law-obeyance as a virtue, that this could happen.
I also hope this doesn't hurt the Azzuri chances in the World Cup.