Adam DigbyComment


Adam DigbyComment

 ...on and on and on and on and on and on and on...

I know, I know. Unless you're an embattled Juventus supporter - or perhaps a defiant Inter fan - you're already thinking "is that still going? Can't they just move on?" But thanks to the seemingly infinite levels of justice - not to mention a raft of appeals courts - provided by the Italian legal system, the trials continue.

It has been five years since the shocking story first broke, a stunning tale of alleged corruption and bribery which tore the Italian game apart, yet galvanised the national team and at least partly inspired their against-the-odds World Cup win. In that time the critics of Serie A have used it as definitive proof in their argument that football on the peninsula is dying a slow, painful death, while it's defenders fought endlessly to make clear it was never about the actual fixing of matches, more a system of influence pedaling.

The latest turn of events however is quite significant, both in terms of it's findings and the ramifications of the final sentencing. The Naples Tribunal, in a civil case entirely separate from the previous sporting trials, ended on Tuesday (November 8) and Judge Teresa Casoria gave her verdict late that same evening.

Former Juventus Director General Luciano Moggi continued his 'everyone is guilty or everyone is innocent' defence which, in fairness to him, has been his mantra since the story began back in 2006. This week he argued he was "not the only devil in a sea of angels", maintaining other clubs had done the same things he was accused of and, much as Inter claimed earlier this year, that he acted so as to ‘protect’ Juve with match officials after others had, in his mind at least, unduly influenced them.

However, Moggi himself was found guilty of sporting fraud by the Naples Judge and condemned to a five years and four month prison sentence which, due to the Italian laws regarding age and length of sentence, he will almost certainly never serve a day of. In addition, Fiorentina's owners Diego and Andrea Della Valle as well as Lazio President Claudio Lotito were all found guilty and given a one year and three month sentence.

Former refereeing designator Paolo Bergamo was given three years and eight months for his involvement, while his colleague at the time Pierluigi Pairetto and former International official Massimo De Santis were also found guilty and handed one year and eleven month sentences. Innocenzo Mazzini, the former Vice President of the Italian FA was condemned to two years and two months as seven other officials, including linesmen and the former Reggina President, were handed lesser sentences.

Meanwhile Lecce, Bologna, Brescia, Atalanta and the consumers’ society had their appeals for damages upheld, unlike Juventus who's similar request was rejected. Yet a statement, posted on the club's official site, made clear their belief that the verdicts had, in direct contrast to the previous sporting tribunals, been in favour of the Turin side. It read;

Today’s decision stated Juventus’ non involvement with the matters charged. The Club was taken to the court of Naples as civilly liable entity by way of objective liability according to Art. 2049 Italian Civil Code.

The decision emerged from the result of a thorough hearing and from the analysis of all evidences, clashed with the reality of an inaccurate sports law which severely penalized Juventus, the sole club damaged due to the removal of two titles - following the victories achieved on the pitch - with consequent relegation and related extensive losses.

Juventus will continue their legitimate campaigns in order to restore the equality of treatment.

If that is indeed the case it will be a huge boost to Juve in their quest to have their two revoked league titles returned. That claim is currently being assessed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after the FIGC ruled in July that there were no legal grounds to revoke the 2006 Scudetto from Inter and hand it back to Juventus. Led by Andrea Agnelli the appeal is based on the proceedings in Naples - often referred to as Calciopoli II - claims that evidence that has emerged in court that Inter were also involved in the original scandal having had significant contact with both match officials and those same designators during those Calciopoli affected seasons

Agnelli, drawing on his family history and prestige, will not concede defeat and maintained the club have every right to use these avenues, telling La Stampa;

"The system which punished Juventus was incompetent. We have been speaking with our legal team and we will be ready to present our case so we can get those titles reassigned.

Should we fail with the CAS, we will continue on to the Attorney General at the Court of Auditors, the Rome prefects office, CONI Delegate of management Control and the UEFA Executive Committee. We won the Scudetto on the pitch in 2006 with 91 points and then another club saw it handed to them on a table."

The reasons behind this weeks rulings from the Naples Tribunal will be released in ninety days time and, in accordance with the justice system, Moggi’s legal team have announced they will appeal. This is only the first level of the civil justice system and there are two separate appeals to go through before these punishments can be confirmed, all of which will only see the case continue to drag on. As ever we can only watch and wait.