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Old 30th July 2006, 10:41   #1
TanyaT
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Default Paradiso to inferno

Paradiso to inferno

Within a week of Italy winning the World Cup, the clubs that had provided 13 players of the triumphant squad were punished in devastating fashion. One man used his influence through media, politics and football. This is how Luciano Moggi brought down one of Europe's greatest clubs - and shamed a nation

Jason Burke
Sunday July 30, 2006
Observer Sport Monthly


This weekend Luciano Moggi, a 69-year-old man with the aquiline nose, bald head and the taste for fine cigars and tailoring that you would expect of a senior Italian football official, agent and, it has now become clear, crook, will be thinking about his future. He may be admiring the view over the Mediterranean from his villa in the Posillipo hills above Naples or relaxing at his town house in the northern city of Turin. Or he might stop by for a drink at a favourite private club on the Mediterranean island of Capri, from where he may go out on his yacht. After all, having just been banned from football for five years and witnessing his life's work collapse around him, he has time on his hands.

Moggi will have much to think about. Last month the luck of 'Lucky Luciano' finally ran out and he was forced to resign from his post as general manager of Juventus, the best supported and most successful club in Italian football, the present champions. On 14 July, a specially appointed tribunal found that, as a result of Moggi's activities, Juventus had, over a period of years, won games that they otherwise might not have done. The richest team in Italy were as punishment relegated to the second division, Serie B, docked enough points to ensure that they will remain there for at least two seasons and stripped of the championships they had won in the past two years. AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio were also punished - all docked points and all but the first being relegated. Italy, even with its history of sporting and political scandals, had never seen anything like it. And all this in the month when the national team had returned from Germany with the country's fourth World Cup.
Moggi's 'system', known as 'Moggiopoli', has been picked over by scores of magistrates, detectives and special legal investigators appointed by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). Hundreds of pages of recorded conversations between key figures have been made publicly available. Less available but circulating none the less are thousands of pages of further documents. Together they show that, in addition to four of the most powerful clubs in the world, the scandal touches the top ranks of most of the major Italian football administrative bodies, dozens of referees, several of the best known Italian sports commentators, even a former government minister and, at least indirectly, several of the World Cup squad.

The question is a simple one. How did one man buy - or at least gain control over - what is one of the richest European leagues, a league that has just produced a World-Cup winning squad (all of the 23-man squad played for Italian clubs)? Finding out is not easy. First, there is a problem of sources. The documents produced by the various inquiries are voluminous but inconclusive. Second, few want to talk about the scandal. A third reason is the very nature of Moggi's activity.

Earlier this year, for an article published in our January issue, I investigated match-fixing networks in northern Europe, predominantly in Belgium and Germany, though there were connections to Greece, Turkey, parts of Scandinavia and, possibly though it was difficult to prove, France, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland. Here the modus operandi of the criminals, who were often from eastern Europe, was quite simple. They corrupted referees and, if possible, offered cash and girls. A referee and two players would be enough to ensure a result. The money was not huge - German players agreed to throw games for a thousand or so euros - but the profits were substantial. By betting on games or sequences of results on the internet, the fixers could earn millions with little difficulty and little risk. This was relatively traditional sporting crime, I wrote in January.

But what Moggi was doing was very different. A revealing fact is that no one involved in the scandal in Italy has been found guilty in a criminal court. So far there is no sign of meetings in hotel rooms where large sums of cash are handed over. There are not even any matches which, definitively, were known to have been rigged. There are no players or referees who have been shown to have accepted brown envelopes. Yet no one doubts that Moggi was able to have a huge, nefarious influence on Italian football which profoundly helped Juventus (and possibly several others) to win. Moggi was somehow able to select referees for games, influence the selection of other teams, have games postponed or cancelled and influence the media coverage of football in a country in which football is a kind of secular worship. So how did he do it? To understand, you have to understand Luciano Moggi, what his rise says about Italian football and what his eventual fall says about Italy.

Luciano Moggi was born at Monticiano, a small provincial town near Siena, among the rolling hills and vineyards and walled towns of Tuscany. This part of the world may be loved by the British middle class and indeed middle-class British Prime Ministers but it was less than romantic for the young Moggi. He left school at 13 and started working on the railways, rising during his twenties to the heights of deputy head of a ticket office. As a youth, Moggi was taken by a baker, a part-time scout for local sides, to football games all over Tuscany. He was hooked and, though a lack of talent restricted him to a stint with a fourth-division club, by the end of his twenties he had shown that he had a very good eye for young talent, working as a freelance scout for a number of clubs including Juventus. His approach was novel. It was personal - almost 'rustic' according to Marco Travaglio, Moggi's biographer.

'He was not just interested in the ability of a player but in his family situation, in his personality,' said Travaglio. 'He was not just a manager but became a second father [to the players], an older brother and was very successful as a result.' In addition, he was a magnificent salesman. In a move that says much about how he worked, Moggi hired as an assistant the baker who had once taken him to games. What goes round, comes round. Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Once a friend, always a friend. The basic principle of the Moggi system.

Moggi was noticed by Italo Allodi - the Italian 'supermanager' who had run the business side of Internazionale when Helenio Herrera coached the club to two consecutive European Cup victories in the Sixties. These victories were tainted by allegations that Allodi had bribed the referees in semi-finals against Dortmund and Liverpool. Brian Glanville, the respected British sports writer, investigated Allodi in the early Seventies, particularly an unsuccessful attempt to bribe the referee in Juve's 1973 European Cup semi-final against Derby County. 'Allodi was the dirtiest trickster of them all, he was a filthy liar, a master criminal,' Glanville says.

Allodi gave Moggi a job in the administration of Juventus's network of scouts with special responsibility for young players. Long before the rest of Europe, Italian football was moving into a different age with superstar players, high-profile managers and a whole new professionalism. In 1975, Moggi moved to Roma, where he refined his personal and effective way of doing things. He had already developed a warm demeanour that appealed to players, built a network of scouts across the entire country and worked out how to endear himself to the powerful actors in the Italian football hierarchy. But in the capital he broadened and deepened his networks of contacts, moving outside football, the better to control what was happening inside the sport. These years were key. Moggi was tireless, networking assiduously with politicians, magistrates, diplomats, military officers, celebrities and especially journalists. 'He understood the value of advertising and media very early on,' said Travaglio. 'They were going to be the winners in football, the soul of the business.' What Moggi understood, too, was that he needed to stay in the shadows while manipulating something that was continually in the public eye.

There was nothing obviously malign about him. He was charming, witty, good company, always ready to help or to do someone a favour, a little shady perhaps but well connected and an operator. He was by now a little smoother as well - having ditched rustic habits such as wiping his mouth on his tie after eating. Above all, Moggi was a good man to know, a good man to have 'on-side', a good man to have as a friend. The first part of 'the Moggi system' was firmly in place.

One afternoon in Rome I had lunch with Gianni Bondini, a columnist at the Gazzetta dello Sport and Italian sports journalism's elder statesman. The Moggi scandal, I ask, why now? Why here? 'It's a very Italian story,' he says. It was broken by his own newspaper back in April. There had been two separate judicial investigations into football corruption. One was being run by magistrates in Turin investigating allegations that Juventus players had been doped. Another, run from Rome, had started after a mafia supergrass told magistrates of illegal betting on football and of corrupt referees. Though the allegations proved to be ungrounded, the investigating magistrates' wiretaps turned up what appeared to be evidence of something much bigger: the Moggi system. In the spring of this year, the Turin magistrates approached the nation's football authorities but swiftly realised that the governing bodies themselves were implicated. At that stage, the Prime Minister was still Silvio Berlusconi who, as the president and owner of AC Milan, one of the four big clubs in the line of fire, was not in favour of a public investigation. So, says Bondini, very quickly the magistrates turned to the press. The story, naturally, was front-page news.

The scandal has its root in the commercialisation of Italian football, explains Bondini, a mild and gracious elderly man. Moggi started making good money as Serie A became the richest and most glamorous league in the world in the late 1970s and early 1980s. 'The Italians pioneered the modern internationalism of football,' Bondini says. 'Remember Maradona coming to Naples in 1984? When money comes in the window, sport goes out of the door. We now have a degenerated football system. We have "rich football". And it's a real mess.'

But Italy are world champions?

'You can't connect the scandal and winning the cup - apart from the fact that the players tried harder because they wanted to redeem their reputations and add to their market value if they were going to be sold,' Bondini says, a little cynically.

'We produce great players because of various things. We have a very competitive league with a very high standard. Italian players are very efficient and very clever. And then there is the Italian nature. It's the fault of our grandmothers. They slept with everybody. So we have lots of different races mixed up in our genes and that makes for great footballers.'

Thinking of the hurled banana, the monkey chants, the vilification of black players as well as the fascist salutes and flags that Italian crowds are known for, I point out that there is a slightly less tolerant attitude to racial integration today.

'That's not true,' says Bondini. '[Immigrant populations] are a part of Italy. If you look at the guys selling stuff in the street, they are all blacks. All the towns in the north east of the country have developing industries thanks to illegal immigrants. Rome's Esquilino district is all Chinese.'

Surely there is a link between the World Cup victory and the scandal? The high standard of Serie A depends in part on all the foreign players and they are here partly at least for the money.

'Yes,' agrees Bondini. 'For the money and for the huge interest in soccer in this country. In most civilised countries you get comment about a match the day afterwards, not all week. And I can tell you what we will remember of this summer. Our sales tell you. We sell 600,000 usually; we sold 900,000 with the Moggi scandal on the front page; we sold 2.5 million when we won the World Cup.'

Ah yes, the World Cup. Italy's tournament was coloured rather than stained by the scandal unfolding back home. For Bondini, the outflow of sporting sewage in Italy merely made the hard-fought triumph of the Azzurri all the more remarkable, throwing it into relief like a diamond set amid manure. It was certainly unprecedented. Never before have players from a side flown home during a tournament to appear before investigators who, effectively, were accusing them of being corrupt.

One of the first to be heard was Marcello Lippi, the Italy coach. On 19 May, three weeks before the World Cup started in earnest in Germany, Lippi appeared in front of magistrates to answer charges that his selection of players for the Italian national team had been influenced by Moggi. Concerns had been raised by investigations into GEA World, Moggi's sports agency which employs Lippi's son, Davide. The allegation was that Moggi had put pressure on Lippi to select fewer Juventus players for the national team to minimise injuries and fatigue. In the event, Lippi did select five Juventus players for the World Cup (in all 13 out of the squad of 23 play for clubs that have been found guilty in the scandal) and has been cleared of any wrongdoing. It still appears likely however that Moggi attempted to influence the coach - in itself a good example of how his system could work.

Yet it was not just the coach who was touched by the scandal. Just days before the start of the tournament, Fabio Cannavaro, the Italy captain and then Juventus defender, as well as his French team-mate at Juventus, David Trezeguet, travelled to Rome to be interviewed as witnesses by the magistrates investigating allegations of 'illegal competition with use of threats and violence' at GEA. Cannavaro eventually lifted the cup; Trezeguet missed a crucial penalty as France lost the final after extra time. Goalkeeper Gigi Buffon, one of the stars of the tournament, is more seriously threatened. He is alleged to have become involved in illegal betting on domestic games and has yet to be cleared.

There was too the story of Gianluca Pessotto who, after 11 years playing for Juventus and the national side, retired and took a job as the club's sporting director in May. Efficient, honest, reliable if slightly uninspiring - for every Zidane, Lippi has said, there needs to be a Pessotto - he threw himself from a window on 27 June with a string of rosary beads in one hand. He hit two cars, very seriously injuring himself. According to his wife, Pessotto, who had no involvement with any wrongdoing at Juventus at all, was suffering from chronic depression.

A friend to almost everyone in the Italian team, Pessotto's apparent suicide attempt deeply affected the players in Germany. 'I'm finding it difficult at the moment, almost impossible, to talk about football or matches and all the emotions that you're supposed to feel at a World Cup,' Buffon said before the quarter-final against Ukraine.

Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluca Zambrotta, team-mates at Juventus, both left Italy's training camp and flew back to visit Pessotto in hospital, returning to Germany the same night to rejoin the squad. Doctors denied a recovering Pessotto the pleasure of watching the final - the excitement was thought likely to be too much for the patient - but the day after the game he received three rather exceptional visitors: Cannavaro, Zambrotta and the World Cup itself.

The 1980s were turbulent times for Moggi. He spent an unhappy year at Lazio from 1980-81. The club was embroiled in a huge corruption scandal, the famous match-fixing affair that involved Paolo Rossi, who returned from a two-year ban to inspire Italy to World Cup victory in Spain in 1982. Unlike the most recent scandal, it involved large amounts of cash and the simple rigging of games. But like 'Moggi-gate', it had also taken place just before a World Cup triumph.

Lucky Luciano then spent the rest of the Eighties moving between teams in Rome, Turin and Naples. The last named saw the drama - or rather farcical tragedy - of what Travaglio, Moggi's biographer, calls 'the Maradona-Moggi show'. Although Moggi had not brought the Argentinian star to Napoli, the two were close. But, as Maradona's off-the-pitch behaviour became increasingly erratic, their relationship deteriorated rapidly. Even Moggi's grip on the local press could not hide the star forward's cocaine consumption, nightclubbing and chronic unreliability. When two mafia supergrasses started talking about Maradona to judges, the scandal became too big to contain. For Moggi, Maradona had committed the cardinal sin, betraying his friendship and confidence. When the player failed a doping test, Moggi cut all links, left Naples and headed back north, fetching up, after a short and successful spell at Torino, as general manager across the city at Juventus.

Through the second half of the 1990s, the second part of the Moggi system was put in place. Lucky Luciano was cutting things fine - narrowly missing prosecution for allegedly providing referees with prostitutes and for false accounting - but his power continued to grow. Moggi became someone who was not just a good man to be friends with but someone whom you did not want to have as an enemy. Personally, acquaintances say, Moggi was less and less the garrulous diplomatic bon viveur and more and more the arrogant don. This was the flip side of the 'I'll help you out' Moggi. This was the 'I'm going to make you an offer you cannot refuse' Moggi. Again, though, Moggi relied on nothing so unsubtle as straight violence.

The following conversations, both between Moggi and Italy's most famous sports commentator Fabio Baldas, show how he worked. Baldas is Italy's Des Lynam, reviewing the weekend's games in his weekly programme. Moggi, with his canny understanding of the media, had worked out that the best way to conceal the bias that referees were repeatedly showing Juventus was by exploiting his contacts in the mass media. His logic was that though 50,000 might see the game live, millions had their opinions formed by men such as Baldas. According to investigators, Baldas and Moggi spoke before nearly every programme to discuss what was going to be said and shown, who was going to be given the Roman thumbs up and who got the thumbs down.
So, on 18 October 2005, Baldas rang Moggi on his mobile.

Baldas: How are you? Well?

Moggi: Good.

Baldas: Listen Luciano, today we haven't got much ... there is ... [just] Rodomonti [the referee for a game between Cagliari-Milan over the weekend, later investigated but cleared by the tribunal]. Is it OK if we make him look bad? If you agree, of course ...

Moggi: Oh naturally.

Baldas: And then? And then? There's always Siena-Fiorentina ...

Moggi: But was there a penalty?

Baldas: Er ... bloody hell, yes, there was a penalty! ... And there Rosetti [a referee, also cleared by the inquiry]. You know the guy ... But if we show him, what are we going to do?

Moggi: No, no, leave him alone ... just drop the Siena game.

Baldas: OK ... if I need a favour will you do me a favour?

Moggi: No problem.

Baldas: You'll call me back soon?

Moggi: Yup, soon.

Baldas: Fine, bye.

There are dozens of such conversations. In fact, according to investigators, Moggi received or made an average of 416 calls per day. He had six mobile phones and 300 sim cards. In nine months, he made or received 100,000 calls.

So is this conversation with Baldas evidence of corruption? Is it match-fixing? Hard to say. Is it even wrong? It certainly smells bad. But it's not as if Baldas got much out of the arrangement. There is no evidence of cash changing hands. Baldas's motivation was much more subtle. The commentator was presented with an offer he could not refuse - in typical Moggi style.

What Baldas did receive in return was access to Juventus and a good source in Moggi - 'Moggi was always really useful, really helpful, always finding stuff out if you asked and calling you back,' said one sports journalist I spoke to in Rome. Also, of course, Moggi had friends everywhere, in the senior ranks of the football federation, in clubs, among players. Moggi's sports agency, GEA, looked after 200 players. It was run by his son, Alessandro, and employed the children of a dozen of the most powerful financiers and sports investors in Italy; the sons of Lazio president Sergio Cragnotti and of Italy coach Marcello Lippi, and Chiara Geronzi (the daughter of Cesare Geronzi, head of Capitalia, the banking group that finances Lazio) were all on staff. If Baldas or anyone else wanted GEA players on their programme, they required Moggi's assent. If Baldas, or anyone else, wanted a pass to Juventus's ground, they needed to be 'a friend'. Because of all the people Moggi was able to manipulate, Baldas was easily manipulated. That, to repeat, was how the Moggi system worked.

But sports journalists are hardly the key to throwing games. For that you need referees.

Here things are a little clearer - though not much. The following is not a conversation you would often hear, one hopes, between the general manager of a football club and the head of a national referees' association. It takes place a day after a Champions League third qualifying round game in Turin on 10 August 2004 in which an unfancied Swedish side, Djurgaarden, held Juventus to a 2 ...#8209;2 draw after the Italians had a goal disallowed. Moggi is talking to Pierluigi 'Gigi' Pairetto, head of the referees' association.

Moggi: Gigi, what **** of a referee did you send us?

Pairetto: [Herbert] Fandel? He's number one, he's a top guy.

Moggi: Yes, whatever, but Miccoli's goal was valid.

Pairetto: No.

Moggi: It's valid, it's valid.

Pairetto: No, it was right in front [of the ref].

Moggi: What are you talking about ... it wasn't in front ... the entire game was an absolute disaster.

Pairetto: But you know he [i.e. Fandel] is one of the best guys.

Moggi: Well, I tell you, he can really **** off. I have to make the return match in Stockholm secure no?

Pairetto: For ****'s sake ... mamma mia ... this [one] really has to be a proper game.

Moggi: No, we are going to win ... but with another [referee] like [Fandel] it's going to be a bit difficult no? You follow me?

Moggi then gives orders for the upcoming Juventus v Messina friendly, naming various referees and linesmen.

Moggi: For Messina, send me Consolo and Battaglia ... with Cassara eh? [None of these officials is suspected of any offence.]

Pairetto: Done already.

Moggi: And who did you send?

Pairetto: I think it's Consola and Battaglia. I've even sorted the friendly in Livorno. It's all fine.

Moggi: In Livorno, Rocchi [a referee who is eventually investigated but cleared] eh?

Pairetto: Yes, its Rocchi in Livorno.

Moggi: And [against Milan] ... it has to be Pieri.

Pairetto: We haven't done that yet.

Moggi: OK, we'll see to that later.

The referee at the Milan v Juve game on 28 August 2004 is Pieri and Juve win 1-0.

On 23 August, before the second leg of the Djurgaarden game, Moggi and Pairetto discuss the crucial European match (see panel on page 36). Pairetto assures Moggi that Juventus will win 4-1. And they do.

A week later Pairetto calls Moggi again, once more about the Champions League. Juventus were due to play their opening group game against Ajax in Amsterdam.

Moggi: Hello.

Pairetto: Hey, have you forgotten me? I always remember you!

Moggi: Oh come on

Pairetto: Hey, I've put in a great referee for the Amsterdam game.

Moggi: Who's that then?

Pairetto: It's Meier [Urs Meier, a Swiss referee].

Moggi: Well done!

Pairetto: I only called you to tell you that. See I remember you, even if you these days ...

Moggi: Oh, don't break my balls. You'll see that when I'm back you'll realise that I haven't forgotten you ...

On 15 September 2004 Juventus played Ajax in Amsterdam and won 1-0. The referee was indeed Urs Meier. He is now working as a pundit on German television, but has not been investigated and nor is he suspected of any offence. However, so far seven Italian referees and linesman have been banned as a result of the investigation. Piaretto and his deputy have both resigned. No one has proved that the referees have done anything criminally wrong and though it is clear from the transcripts that some were preferred by Moggi, presumably because they favoured Juventus, there is no evidence of cash exchanging hands. There is some evidence of the gift of a few tickets, a mobile phone, a short cut to the front of the lengthy waiting list for a Maserati, but nothing serious. Perhaps evidence of big cash gifts will emerge - criminal investigations are still going on - but perhaps it won't. Many think that there were no such gifts.

So why did the referees, who in Italy are relatively well paid professionals, and Pairetto do what they did?

'Because they had no real choice, because they were weak, because they were ambitious, because they were caught up in a corrupt system,' says one sports expert who did not want to be named.

'If they didn't favour Juventus they wouldn't get picked to referee big games. If they displeased Moggi, they might lose their jobs,' said biographer Travaglio.

It is true that one referee was locked in his changing room and threatened by Moggi, but that's relatively mild by local standards. It's not as if he woke up with a horse's head on his doorstep. Like Pairetto, who knew that Moggi was powerful enough to have him fired, the only possibility is that referees very much wanted to be Moggi's friend. And very much did not want to be his enemy.

Reading back through hundreds more pages of transcripts, the lines of the Moggi system start to become clearer. There are Moggi's attempts to influence the selection of opposing teams through his GEA agency, there is the occasion when, allegedly, Moggi tried to persuade a government minister to give the go-ahead to games that were set to be cancelled because of the imminent death of Pope John Paul II (Juventus were scheduled to play a Fiorentina side lacking two players suspended and two injured). There is nothing as crude as an exchange of cash, just friendship and favours. And when you have one man who has so much power, built up over so many years, through so many friendships and so many thousands of favours, from the very top levels of administration to the scouts in unknown provincial grounds, no one individual can resist. You are either inside - and safe and comfortable - or outside the system - which is a very lonely place to be.

Professor Andrea Manzella is a senior jurist and a senator in Romano Prodi's ruling coalition. His office overlooks the Piazza Navona, one of the most famous in Rome, with its 17th century church of St Agnes, Bernini fountains and tourist-trap cafes. The church was built on the site where, according to legend, St Agnes was stripped naked but miraculously saved from disgrace by extraordinary growth of hair.

When Manzella arrives, I ask him to explain how the Moggi system worked. 'It is a very Italian thing,' he says, exactly as Bondini had done. 'Here in Italy you have this atmosphere of continual compromise with the law. You don't break the law ... but you don't exactly stick to it either.' Manzella explains that Moggi's aim was not so much to rig matches, or gain immediate personal advantage, but create the most propitious environment for a team and thus success. 'What Moggi was doing was trying to stop something bad happening to something that was important to him and encourage something good happening to him. This is very Italian. And the more friends you have, the better you can do it.

'It's a cultural weakness. So much of Italian society is genuinely meritocratic, but there is also a widespread idea that to get on you need a little bit of extra help, however that is enacted and defined.'

Others have told me that the scandal could never have come out under the previous administration of Silvio Berlusconi, whose right-wing government was ousted by a left-wing coalition led by Romano Prodi in a close, bitterly contested election in April. It is not just that Berlusconi is owner and president of AC Milan, one of the clubs implicated in the scandal, but that the media magnate and former nightclub singer epitomises, for so many, the 'old way' of doing business in Italy. Prodi and his administration hope to use the investigation of Moggi and his system to show that a new integrity has entered Italian political and social life.

Shamed by relegation, Juventus now claim to be regulating themselves. The club, listed on the Italian stock exchange since 2001, have hired a London-based public relations firm to talk to the press. Their line is much as you would expect from a major corporation that has suffered a boardroom scandal. Their majority shareholders - effectively the Agnelli family, who own the car manufacturers Fiat - forced the resignation of all the senior directors and have put in a new administration. 'Juventus have turned over a new leaf,' said a spokesman, with stark unoriginality. 'They are saying something has to change in Italian football. The sentences are pretty draconian. Going down to Serie B means a hit of at least 50m a year.'

But if Juventus are admitting their faults, few others are. The affair spiralled rapidly beyond the Turin club, something that is not surprising given the all-pervasive, insidious nature of the Moggi system. As we know, three other clubs have been severely punished. According to the judges AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio did not benefit quite as substantially as Juventus but did profit from what was going on. The details of what they are alleged to have done remain sketchy but it appears that the three teams received favours from Moggi and his small army of compliant administrators and referees. There are several games that are suspected of being rigged - though all the three clubs deny wrongdoing and are standing by their top officials.

One afternoon, armed with two transcripts that are the basis for the charges against the president of Lazio, Claudio Lotito, I meet the club's lawyers in an office in Rome. The transcripts show Franco Carraro (the president of the Italian Football Federation) calling Pairetto (the head of the referees' association) in February this year, three weeks before Lazio played Chievo in a game that investigators believe was fixed. 'Listen,' Carraro says, 'we need to give Lazio a hand ...' Lotito then talks to the vice-president of the Federation and says: 'So you have spoken to Carraro ... that's good ... that means he is on my side.' Shortly afterwards Lotito is called by the vice-president of the football federation, a close associate of Moggi. 'We need to save ourselves however we can,' he says. 'They are going to arrest you.' A few days later Lazio play Parma. The referee, himself found guilty by the tribunal of corruption, controversially disallowed a Parma penalty; Lazio won 2-0.

Lazio's lawyers can explain all this. 'Lazio have done nothing wrong,' one says. The apparent request for help is actually a demand for more professional referees, he explains, and says that the mention of arrests is 'a joke'. Lotito's interlocutor is apparently a Tuscan and thus 'naturally effusive'.

Lazio are not the only ones to deny any wrong-doing. Moggi's lawyer proved evasive when I tried to contact him. However the lawyer for Antonio Giraudo, the former chief executive at Juventus, does speak. Giraudo has been forced to resign by Juventus, banned from the game and fined by the tribunal. His lawyer hopes to clear his name. 'It's not as if he was altering matches or creating a whole new world of football,' the lawyer says. 'There was no "system". It was just the dutiful acts of a loyal friend and colleague. It was all totally normal.'

So it's all normal. It's all business as usual in Serie A.

On 17 July, Moggi spoke to the newspaper La Repubblica in Follonica in his native Tuscany.

'How are you Mr Moggi? And are you going to return to the world of football?' the reporters asked. 'I'm very well,' Moggi replied. 'My sister said she has never seen me so relaxed ... Of course [I'll return to football] ... but this time I'm going to be the guy who breaks everybody's balls. I'll finger them all, by their first names and their surnames. I'll break the balls of all the false moralists of this world who think that everything is clean now because they got rid of ... Luciano Moggi.'

Marco Travaglio, for once, agrees with the subject of his best-selling biography. 'Throughout history, Italian football has been known as a world of bandits,' he said. 'Now that Moggi has been banned it won't be any cleaner ... and Moggi will leave scars too.'

As Moggi ponders his future this weekend he at least knows one thing for certain: Lucky Luciano is down, but he is far from being out.

Story of a scandal

2004
Italian police, investigating claims of organised doping of players, begin to tap the phones of leading officials.

February 2006
The police, having found evidence of match-fixing, show it to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). April Silvio Berlusconi, president of AC Milan, is replaced as Italian Prime Minister by Romano Prodi after a close-fought election.

3 May
Italian papers publish transcripts of suspicious phone calls. Some involve Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi and Pierluigi Pairetto, the official responsible for allocating referees and vice-president of Uefa's refereeing committee. Others involve Pairetto and referees.

9 May
FIGC president Franco Carraro resigns after it emerges they have taken no action on the transcripts since February. Moggi and the Juve board resign two days later. Massimo de Santis, the Italian referee due to take part in the World Cup, has to withdraw.

14 May
Juve retain the Serie A title.

24 May
Francesco Borrelli, head of the 'Clean Hands' probe into political corruption in the 1990s, is to lead the investigation . The only person not to co-operate is Lucian o Moggi .

3 June
A week before the World Cup starts, Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro, a Juventus player, has to fly home to be questioned. 19 June Borrelli hands over the results of his interviews to the FIGC's prosecutor, Stefano Palazzi. Trading in Juve shares is suspended.

22 June
Fiorentina, Juventus, Lazio and Milan are to stand trial before a sporting tribunal.

27 June
Juventus's new sporting director, Gianluca Pessotto, is found seriously injured in the street outside the club's HQ after an apparent suicide bid.

4 July
Palazzi recommends that Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio be thrown out of Serie A, with Juventus relegated to at least Serie C and handed a six-point penalty.

9 July
Cannavaro lifts the World Cup after victory over France. On their return home, the players go to see Pessotto, a former Italy defender, who is recovering in hospital.

14 July
Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio are relegated, with Milan just deducted points. All punishments are subject to appeal.

The verdicts

Juventus

Relegated to Serie B
Start the new league season with minus 30 points
Stripped of 2005 and 2006 league titles
Out of 2006-07 Champions League
Five-year ban for former general manager Luciano Moggi
Five-year ban for ex-chief executive Antonio Giraudo

Fiorentina

Relegated to Serie B
Start the new league season with minus 12 points
Out of 2006-07 Champions League
President Andrea Della Valle banned for three years and six months
Four-year ban for honorary president Diego Della Valle

Lazio

Relegated to Serie B
Start new league season with minus seven points
Out of 2006-07 Uefa Cup
Three-year ban for president Claudio Lotito

AC Milan

Remain in Serie A but start season with minus 15 points
Out of 2006-07 Champions League
One-year ban for vice-president Adriano Galliani
Club official Leonardo Meani banned for 42 months

(All verdicts subject to appeal)

Dramatis personae

Luciano Moggi
The former railway-station ticket-office manager from Tuscany began his career in football as a youth scout for Juventus in the early 1970s. He then worked in administration for Roma, Torino and Napoli before returning to Juve as general manager in 1994. The 69-year-old resigned from the club in May and has now been banned from the game for five years, with the possibility of a life ban, and fined 50,000.

Pierluigi Pairetto
A former referee who oversaw World Cup and European Championship matches in the Nineties, Pairetto progressed to become head of the Italian referees' association, in which role he allocated officials to Serie A matches. Until June, he was a vice-chairman of Uefa's referees committee and has since been reprimanded by the European football authority for his role in the Italian scandal.

Alessandro Moggi
Son of Luciano, the 33-year-old heads a player agency, GEA World, which he created in 2001 and is now said to represent more than half the players in Serie A, including almost all the Juventus squad. Initial reports claimed that his father had used this connection to pressure GEA players into underperforming against Juve. GEA is currently under investigation by magistrates for recruiting players by intimidation .

Fabio Baldas
A former referee who began his career in 1981 in Serie C, Baldas was promoted to the international ranks in 1991, officiating at the 1994 World Cup. Since retiring in 1998, Baldas was a pundit on Italy's longest running football programme, Il Processo (The Trial), analysing replays of controversial match incidents. He was caught speaking to Luciano Moggi about the tone of coverage on the show, and has since resigned.

Gianluigi Buffon
The Juventus goalkeeper comes from a sporting family as his mother was a discus thrower, his father a weightlifter and his two sisters volleyball players. He started his career at Parma in 1996 at the age of 17 and won his first cap for Italy at 19. In 2001 he signed for Juventus for a world-record fee for a keeper of 33m. In May 2006, he was accused of betting on Serie A matches while with Parma, though none involved his own club, and he submitted himself to questioning as part of the official investigation. Despite this, he was one of Italy's best players during their World Cup campaign, conceding just two goals in the finals - one was an own goal and the other a penalty. He is currently engaged to the former Miss Czech Republic, Alena Seredova.

Antonio Giraudo
Having worked for Juventus owners Giovanni and Umberto Agnelli as an executive at Fiat, Giraudo, 59, was brought in as the club's managing director in 1994. Juve made a profit for seven straight years under him. After featuring in the phone taps in conversation with Luciano Moggi, he, and the rest of the board, resigned on 11 May. He has been banned from football for five years and fined 20,000.

Franco Carraro
The president of the Italian Football Federation resigned on 8 May but remains a member of Uefa's executive committee. Carraro, 66, was European water-skiing champion three times in his early twenties. He became president of AC Milan at 27 and has also been Minister for Tourism and mayor of Rome. Carraro has been a member of the International Olympic Committee and presided over Italy's organisation of the 1990 World Cup.

Jason Burke is The Observer's Europe Correspondent. He wrote about match-fixing in Europe in our January 2006 issue



http://football.guardian.co.uk/comme...833315,00.html
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