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Calcio – A History of Corruption and Scandal
Italy, a country associated with good wine, beautiful food, beautiful women, and above all Calcio. The Italians are very interested in the latter, but unfortunately their beloved sport has a terrible history of corruption and scandals.
The recent Calciopli scandal that shocked the football world in the summer of 2006, is just one incident in a long line of problems that have rocked Italian football (especially Serie A) since the English introduced the game to the Peninsula. For many Calcio fans, this recent scandal did not come as a shock, especially for Italians who are used to corruption, and scandals within their beloved sport.
If you look as far as 1926-27 (Torino’s lack of a Scudetto), you will find that every decade has at least one event that was surrounded by corruption or scandals. Most of the Italian fans are used to this, and are rarely surprised when a new story hits the headlines. It is as if it has become part of Calcio in the peninsula.
There is a theory in Italy that players, officials (and the like) do not fix matches, but distort the idea of fixing matches – and this is seen as a practice by everyone involved in Calcio. It’s hard to explain what I mean when I say they distort the idea of matchmaking, but I’ll try to explain with a few examples.
It is not easy to organize football games, because all games are public events, played in front of a crowd (and sometimes TV cameras); with at least three matches, twenty two players, two managers, coaching staff etc. There are different ways around fixing a certain result, and it’s a kind of tacit agreement on the result. The lower reaches of Italian football are known for this type of deal, and it’s also a popular spot at the end of the season in Serie A. So what is this deal like? Rather, it is ‘fixation’.
Deliberately planning a tug-of-war whose outcome guarantees the benefit of both parties in Italy, and since nothing has been agreed, nothing can be guaranteed. Different bookmakers are aware of this, and you will often see very short challenges in 0-0 results, or straight draws.
A recent example can be seen on the last day of the 2006/07 Serie B season, when third-placed Genoa hosted second-placed Napoli. Napoli only need a point to qualify, and Genoa would join them if they finish 10th above fourth-placed Piacenza. A goalless draw between the two followed, and was enough to secure both of them promotion to Serie A.
At the end of the 2004/05 Serie A season, all clubs in Rome were facing a relegation battle. At the start of the derby, both clubs appeared to be trying, before a series of discussions took place on the pitch. What’s next? Only six shots were managed in the entire game, and the game ended 0-0 (a result that favored both clubs).
Although the Italians accept this as part of Calcio, they were at risk of similar results reported in Euro 2004. Due to UEFA looking at head to head (before there was a difference in goals to put teams on a level on points). ), the problem arose in Group C where Sweden and Denmark only needed to draw more goals for both to progress. The match ended surprisingly 2-2, which was enough to eliminate the Italians (who had fewer goals than both the Swedes and the Danes). It was surprising that the Italian fans protested the result, saying that FIFA’s referee should have been used, because it would have stopped the Scandinavians with all their heart to play the game after winning 2-2.
Another example of alleged match-fixing can be seen (again) on the final day of the match. Often the ‘big club’ (with nothing to play for), is playing the ‘small club’ (fighting for relegation), and the ‘small club’ often gets good results (which they could not have achieved in this course. of the season). Inevitably this leads to accusations of match-fixing, but this is not always the case, and is another way of twisting the original idea.
So why doesn’t this count as match fixing? The answer is simple – no one expects a ‘big club’ to try hard (especially in a meaningless game). This is worrying, but Calcio fans have accepted this.
On the last matchday in Serie A in 2006/07, Reggina needed a win to ensure they would not be relegated, and faced a Champions League-assured AC Milan side. What’s next? A 2-0 home win for Reggina that ensured their safety.
The same season, but this time the example comes from Serie B. Spezia needs a victory to ensure that they avoid relegation, and they faced a very difficult trip to Juventus, who have not lost at home all season (but were already guaranteed promotion). What’s next? A 3-2 victory for Spezia that ensured their safety. The logic behind the above examples is simple – why try so hard, especially when you have nothing to play for?
The above examples have been accepted as part of Calcio, but in some cases the authorities have banned it, punishing the different teams involved in the scandal. Some of the most famous fouls have made headlines around the world in football, with the first of these dating back to the late 1920s.
The 1927 Scudetto was stripped from Torino, after a scandal involving their bitter rivals, Juventus. An investigation found that the Juventus defender, Luigi Allemandi, was bribed by the Torino boss, before the game (a sum of 50,000 lire). Torino were stripped of their first title, and surprisingly no one received the 1927 scudetto.
In the summer of 2006, an alleged match-fixing case hit the headlines, named Moggiopoli, after the general manager of Juventus. The case was uncovered by Italian police, including league champions Juventus, and other major teams including AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Reggina; while several telephone calls revealed a growing relationship between team managers and refereeing bodies. The teams that participated in the show were accused of cheating, by choosing good referees. Juvetus were stripped of the scudetto, relegated, and suspended for points, while other participating clubs were stripped of various points.
For many Calcio fans, this did not come as a shock, as many fans consider the referee to be a fraud (unless proven otherwise). There are various (well-known) examples of referee decisions that fans consider as fraudulent, where they decided important matches, or decided against: Maurizio Turone’s goal disallowed in Roma against Juventus in 1981; Losing Fiorentina in the 1982 scudetto; Inter’s penalty miss with Ronaldo, against Juventus, in 1998.
There are hundreds of examples of alleged match-fixing, throughout the history of Calcio, and there are several known scandals, which were exposed by the authorities. It seems that Calcio fans have accepted this for many years, and it is part of the country’s mentality to accept corruption.
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