Saturday, July 15, 2006

TIA Guide to the Italian Scandal

How did this investigation begin?
Police, looking into an alleged betting ring wagering on matches in the 2004-05 season, heard a suspect boast that he had a close relationship with Luciano Moggi, the Juventus general manager at the time. This was not true, but police tapped Moggi’s phone and heard him trying to influence the appointment of referees. The transcripts were handed over to the Italian FA in September and were leaked in May after it became clear that there was little likelihood of further action.

Who is involved?
Yesterday’s verdict was on Juventus, AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina. Five other clubs — Siena, Reggina, Messina and Lecce in Serie A, plus Arezzo in Serie B — have also been indicted but, because they did not qualify for European competition, will be dealt with later.

Why give the verdict on the first four now?
To meet Uefa’s deadline of July 25 to name the Italian clubs that will play in Europe.

Will anyone be jailed?
Not in this trial. This is a sporting court, but it means the threshold of proof is lower than in a civil trial or criminal trial.

What were the clubs and individuals accused of?
Attempting to fix a match, fixing a match and failing to report match-fixing or similar “unsporting” behaviour.

Why are Juventus facing the most severe penalty?
Lazio, Fiorentina and Milan stand accused of far lesser crimes. Milan had a consultant who made idle boasts to linesmen. Fiorentina were victimised by match officials controlled by Moggi until the club agreed to stop campaigning against the Juventus general manager, at which point they got a few favourable decisions late in the season and avoided relegation. Lazio lobbied league officials, but there is no evidence that they spoke to anyone involved with referees.

Will this have any effect on English clubs?
The disappearance of Juventus and AC Milan from European competition not only next season but possibly for subsequent seasons will increase English clubs’ chances of winning the Champions League.

Will Chelsea now be seeded in the Champions League?
No. They are still highly unlikely to be among the eight top seeds for the Champions League group phase because they have only joined the elite of Europe recently.

They would need Liverpool, Arsenal, Inter Milan and Valencia all to lose their preliminary-round ties in order to be among the top eight seeds, a calculation based on their own results — and those of English clubs generally — in Europe over the past five years. Manchester United will be one of the top seeds in the group stage, as will Liverpool and Arsenal if they qualify.


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