While winning a World
Cup might be a once-in-a-generation experience for Italians, discovering that
the local competition is beset by corruption is a far more regular occurrence.
Despite the “shock-horror” surrounding the current corruption scandal, the fact
is Italian football has a long and not-so-proud history of fraud.

This year it is Juventus under
investigation for match fixing, but back in 1948 it was Napoli who were relegated from
the top division for rigging a game against Bologna. Genoa were the bad
boys of Serie A in 1960 – 28 points deducted and relegation for a case of
corruption in a match against Atalanta, with further penalties the following
year.

The 1973-74 was a vintage season for
penalties with Sampdoria losing three points for having promised, the previous
year, to give Atalanta players a little present if they lost a match. Foggia lost six
points and were relegated from Serie A because of corruption affecting their
game against Milan, and Verona were dropped to last for a similar offence against Napoli.

In the summer of 1986, a major match fixing
scandal involved teams, executives and players. At the end of the inquiries, Perugia was
relegated from Serie B, Vicenza was not admitted to Serie A, Udinese and Lazio lost nine points for
the 1986-87 season and Cagliari, Palermo and Triestina were each penalised five points.

In the 1990-91 season, Luciano Moggi, the
former car salesman and recently resigned Juventus general manager, supposedly
provided prostitutes for referees officiating in three UEFA Cup
matches when he was at Torino. Torino won all three games.

In 1993 Perugia was again
in the news when its promotion from Serie C1 to Serie B was cancelled when it
was discovered that referee Emanuele Senzacqua had bought horses from Perguia
president Luciano Gaucci. The referees’ association soon established an honesty
test.

The quaintly named Genoa Cricket and
Football Club was the club in the news at the end of the 2004-05 season when it
was found to have paid €250,000 to ensure that it beat Venezia in the last
round of the Serie B competition.

Venezia, second from bottom and already
relegated, had filed for bankruptcy at the time of the game, had ten first-team
regulars on strike over unpaid wages and fielded a side filled with youth-team
players. Genoa needed the home win to guarantee their promotion and obviously did
not want to leave anything to chance. According to a London Times
report, a series of wiretaps revealed suspicious conversations between Genoa officials and
their Venezia counterparts during the match.

The Times report continued: “Even more
telling was the fact that Pino Pagliara, a Venezia director, was arrested by
police as he was leaving Preziosi’s offices a few days later. He was carrying a
duffel bag stuffed with the €250,000 in cash. Genoa came from
behind to win the game 3-2 and, to the judges, it was an open-and-shut case.”

Peter Fray

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