Juventus, Fiorentina & Lazio sanctioned as AC Milan survive
Last night the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (the Italian Football Federation), concluded its investigation into allegations of match-fixing in Serie A, that was said to involve twenty-six individuals ranging from executives and management personnel at four clubs (Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio), officials within the federation and referees. Under suspicion, phone-tapping was agreed and various phone calls were recorded detailing conversations that was said to have amounted to the commission of arranging for certain officials to officiate certain matches of the mentioned clubs. The FIGC's decision was read out last night and declared certain officials employed at all four clubs and who were involved in the match-fixing were guilty and as a result sanctions would incur on the clubs.
Juventus, who had won the back-to-back titles of 2004/05 and 2005/06, were to be stripped of those titles, they will be relegated to Serie B and begin their first season there with a 30pts deduction, out of European football for 2006/07 and 2007/8, their former general manager Luciano Moggi and former chief executive Antonio Giraudo banned from football for five years. I understand both Moggi and Giraudo have been recommended by the prosecutor for a lifetime ban.
AC Milan will remain in Serie A but will begin the new season with a 15pts deduction, are out of European football for 2006/07 after receiving a 50% pts deduction from last season's tally of 88pts to now 44pts (meaning AC Milan will officially be 12th for 2005/06), their vice-president Adriano Galliani banned for 12 months from football while club official Leonardo Meani received a 42-month suspension.
Fiorentina, who narrowly avoided relegation to Serie B in 2004/2005 and have therefore come some way a season later, are now heading there with Juventus to start their season with a 12pts deduction, with the same European football implications as Juventus, the Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle banned for three years, and his brother and Fiorentina honorary president Diego Della Valle, banned for four years.
Lazio will join Juventus and Fiorentina in Serie B with a 7pts deduction to begin the season with and the same European football implications, their president Claudio Lotito banned for three years.
I say from the outset Juventus were hit hard and not with a pillow but a jackhammer. I considered none of the clubs would be relegated but heavily fined and docked points but the FIGC were not kidding, and for such sanctions they must have sifted through substantial compelling evidence to have come to their decision. This is subject to appeals with one club, I believe it was AC Milan, stating they may very well be prepared to take any appeal outside of the football jurisdiction into the civil courts. Yet any appeal to be made has to be logged within three days, therefore Monday was said to be the day appeals would occur. The FIGC have to adjudicate over any appeal and finalise a decision before the 25th July, when they are expected to submit the Italian teams for the Champions League campaign.
I would imagine the appeals will be jointly lodged, but as far as their European implications go, there is no way back. Last night's decision was final in regard to European football, these teams will definitely not be participating therefore the appeals will cover only the demotions, suspensions and points deductions. The FIGC are expected to promote AS Roma, Chievo and Palermo along with Inter Milan for the Champions League, and now Livorno, Parma and Empoli for the UEFA Cup.
Was AC Milan not demoted because their involvement was minor or because it would misconstrue the numbers in Serie B? Consider the players, particularly those at Juvenuts, who collectively formed thirteen of the Italy World Cup winning squad, who may decide to move to remain in European football, given that an appeal may reinstate their Serie A status. If I was in charge of any of these clubs, I would call an emergency meeting with the players and discuss. I'm sure further comment will ensue after the appeal hearings and decisions.