In his book A Season With Verona, Tim Parks wrote: “Whenever a provincial side
comes to Turin (to play Juventus), they arrive expecting to be cheated.” But
the result, “il verdetto del campo“,
or “the fields’ verdict”, is always accepted.
Although those words were written from a
soccer fan’s point of view, the whole of Italy is waiting to see just how true
that sentiment – expressed in writing by Parks but felt strongly by Italian soccer fans –
actually is. The verdict in this case will not come down on the soccer pitch,
rather in Italy’s courtrooms.
Amid Juventus’ celebrations over a record
29th Serie A “Scudetto” (Premiership), the club’s general Director
Luciano Moggi is facing allegations that he pressured UEFA referee official
Pierluigi Pairetto to assign particular referees to Juventus’ UEFA Champions
League games. Moggi’s woes only begin there.
He is also being investigated by magistrates in Parma and Rome in two separate
probes into illegal gambling and the anti-competitive practices of a management
company, GEA World, owned by his son, Alessandro Moggi. Rome magistrates have
put the company under investigation for “illegal competition with use of
threats and violence”.
To make matters worse, one of the world’s best goalkeepers, Juventus and
Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, is being investigated over allegations of match
fixing and illegal gambling. The scandal has even reached Australia, with
Socceroos’ back-up goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac, who plays for Milan, now embroiled in the scandal.
This public outrage has led to the
resignations of Moggi; the entire Juventus board; Franco Carraro, Chairman
of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), and Innocenzo Mazzini, FIGC’s vice
chairman. Juventus Football Club SpA shares were suspended from trade on the
Milan Bourse on Monday on fear of losing over 600 million euro of sponsorship
and broadcasting dollars if they are relegated.
The verdict off the field may have
huge ramifications for the future of the national pastime, but will Juventus’
influence again get them off the hook? Or will the words Tim Parks wrote carry
a deeper truth than Italian soccer fans had ever hoped was true?