In 2006, the Italian football scandal known as ‘Calciopoli’ broke out implicating Italy’s top professional football clubs including Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina of leveraging improper and unacceptable levels of influence in choosing referees for top flight Serie A matches.
Investigations by Italian police in May 2006 at the Italian football agency GEA World headed by Luciano Moggi uncovered a number of telephone interceptions and transcripts that pointed to a substantial network of relations between the referee organisations and club management that suggested significant influence in the appointment of match officials. Transcripts in Italian newspapers suggested that Luciano Moggi who was Juventus general manager at the time had conversations with a number of Italian officials in order to significantly influence referee appointment.
The influence and selection of favourable referees for matches led to accusations of match fixing amongst many of Italy’s most prestigious and successful clubs.
Overall 41 people were investigated along with 33 Serie A matches between 2004 and 2006.
Originally Italian Football Federation (FIGC) prosecutor, Stefano Palazzi called for Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio to be thrown out of Serie A and went further in his statement by calling for Juventus to be relegated to a division “lower than Serie B”.
Palazzi called for point deductions for Juventus (six), AC Milan (three), Fiorentina (15) and Lazio (15) as well as for Juventus (who were champions at the time of the scandal) to be stripped of both their 2005 and 2006 Scudetto league titles. Palazzi also called for a 15 point deduction for Reggina along with relegation to Serie B.
In total five clubs were penalised for their involvement in Calciopoli including Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina.
Italian champions Juventus were stripped of their 2005 and 2006 Serie A league titles and on the 26th July 2006 the Italian Football Federation awarded Inter Milan the Serie A Championship for the 2005-2006 season.
More crucially, Juventus were thrown out of the 2006-2007 UEFA Champions League competition and were also relegated to Serie B. Juventus were deducted nine points on their relegation to Serie B during the 2006-2007 season.
The relegation to the Italian second division prompted an exodus of players including Lillian Thuram, Fabio Cannavaro and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. This did not stop Juventus and the Biaconeri won the Serie B Championship in 2006/2007 to secure their immediate return back to Serie A.
AC Milan were deducted 30 points from the 2005/2006 season and were originally thrown out of the 2006/2007 UEFA Champions League. This was overturned and AC Milan subsequently went on to lift the European Cup trophy later that year.
Fiorentina were deducted 15 points during the 2006/2007 season, but overcame this deficit and finished sixth to secure a place in the UEFA Cup for the 2007/2008 competition.
Lazio were deducted 3 points during the 2006/2007 season and were also thrown out of the 2006/2007 UEFA Cup competition.
A 15 point penalty was handed down to Reggina for the 2006/2007 season for their role in the Calciopoli scandal.
The punishment handed down by the FIGC has long been disputed largely due to the disparity in punishment and the severity of the penalties handed moreover to Juventus.
Juventus were convicted of having an exclusive relationship with the refereeing officials and designators, but the FIGC was unable to prove that any match fixing had taken place and they were unable to charge the Bianconeri with an Article 6 violation of direct match fixing.
Concerns have been raised over the legality and impartiality of the wiretaps, which were conducted by Telecom Italia. Telecom Italia were run by a CEO who had been part of Inter Milan’s Board of Directors for over ten years. Christian Vieri, suggested that the scandal was sparked by Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti and the former Inter Milan striker is currently suing Telecom Italia and Inter Milan for illegal wire tapping.
The Calciopoli scandal in 2006 highlighted a whole network of conflicts within Italian football which went up right to the highest level, however under the FIGC’s Sporting Justice Code the statue of limitations runs out after two seasons, meaning any sanctions against a club and their conduct and involvement during the Calciopoli scandal now falls outside of this remit.
With Juventus potentially seeking damages against the FIGC, the Calciopoli scandal looks likely to remain at the forefront of Italian football for the foreseeable future.
Juventus manager Antonio Conte has been banned for 10 months following his failure to report alleged match-fixing during his time at former club Siena in the 2010-11 season. Conte had himself proposed a plea bargain deal of a three month ban, prior to the punishment handed down by the FIGC, but this was rejected.
Defender Emanuele Pesoli of Serie B side Verona has been imposed with a three year ban for match-fixing. Pesoli responded by chaining himself to the gates of the Italian Football Federation’s headquarters in Rome and going on hunger strike. The 31-year-old has been banned following a probe into illegal betting on matches during his time at Siena.