Football is a beautiful game and has been spreading joy around the world for a long time now. But it has seen dark ages especially in Italy. In this article, we’ll describe the biggest scandals in the history of Serie A.
Football could be considered Italy’s most popular sport. Its world-class teams have the most famous defenders, talented strikers, and the best coaches. But investigations have uncovered an unseemly lack of virtue and abuse of power within the industry. Mafia corruption and infiltration have come to characterize Italian football to the point that criminal behavior might seem to be the norm. These scandals in Italian football had made its face ugly. They were the newspapers' headlines someday, stories that usually never get released in the press.
Nowadays football authorities are not allowed to favor any particular club, especially when they own the club. In the first one of the biggest scandals in the history of Serie A Juventus won a match with 8 goals ahead.
Despite the fact that Inter Milan and Juventus are from different cities, they have a rich history. This history reaches up to the present day, so much so that it is often recalled during contentions between their fans.
In April 1961, an episode between the Old Lady of Italy, Juve, and beloved Inter happened that undoubtably sharpened the already heated rivalry. The derby of Italy initially assigned to the Nerazzurri at the table was suspended, then replayed and won by the Bianconeri in June of that year. This change of the result rekindled the heat by other episodes both inside and outside the pitch.
In the 1960–61 season, Helenio Herrera was Inter’s manager and made it the “Grande Inter”. Inter seemed to have the championship in hand. They had defeated Juventus 3–1 in San Siro. The Nerazzurri, however, ran into four consecutive defeats that allow the Turin club to move to the top of the Serie A standings. The return derby of Italy, was a challenge for the Nerazzurri and the president Angelo Moratti could represent a rebirth, while for Juve it could become an opportunity to deliver championship.
The stadium of Turin was full. The stands weren’t enough to contain the spectators. Due to the increasingly pressing presence of the fans near the pitch, the referee Gambarotta of Genoa decided at minute 31 to suspend the game for safety reasons.
At first, Juve was disqualified because it was its fans who have invaded the pitch and the Lega Calcio awarded a 2–0 victory to Inter. Lega Calcio was the governing body that ran the two football divisions in Italy, Serie A and B. later they overturned the decision and ordered a replay, much to the fury of Moratti and the club supporters. This sudden change of mind was seemed to be the start of one of the biggest Serie A scandals in history.
Moratti accused the Italian football association of favoritism. If Inter Milan was to get three scores from that match, they would have been the champions of Serie A. But Umberto Agnelli, who was the Juventus chairman, was from an influential family. Agnelli was the FIGC president at the time, the Italian football federation. Moratti, literally infuriated by the decision, talked about it with Herrera and together they made a historic decision. In protest against one of the worst Serie A scandals ever, they decided to field their youth player for the replay.
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Though the Nerazzurri appealed the decision of the FIGC right away, the judgment was not rendered until the last day of the season. On June 10, 1961, Juve and Inter met. Juventus was already the Italian champion. The epilogue of the match has already been written. They didn’t even have to try too hard. Sivori scored six goals. The 9–1 remains the biggest victory obtained by the Old Lady.
Because Inter Milan had won the league by only one point, the decision understandably was seen as a way to hand Juventus the title. It was one of the biggest scandals in Serie A history that made juve the champion. The 1960–61 season ended with Juve won the scudetto with 49 points, ahead of Milan (45) and Inter (44).
Totonero might not be the first scandal but it is definitely the first and biggest Serie A scandals in history. It all started in 1980, when police noticed that Lazio players were involved with organized crimes and received money to cheat on games. The fun fact is that police's first hint was a man who claimed he gave money to players but his favored result didn't fulfill.
After investigations, it turned out that was just the tip of the iceberg. More than thirty players were persons of interest. Police performed a big arrest day. Some players were arrested inside stadiums after the match or were substituted. Besides those arrests, fifteen club executives were detained too.
It was the top story in the press. The number of suspects grew larger and there were big names among them. Biggest accusation bomb landed on Milan in one of the worst Serie A scandals of all time. Felice Colombo the chairman of AC Milan club was arrested alongside two players. Colombo confessed that he gave money to Lazio players to grant a 2–1 victory for AC Milan. As a result, three Lazio players were condemned to participate in this action.
On top of the names was legendary azzurri striker Paolo Rossi. However, he claimed to be innocent and a victim of conspiracy. Felice Colombo and AC Milan goalkeeper Enrico Albertosi banned for life. The team itself relegated to Serie B. Milan wasn't alone in Serie B because Lazio also was relegated. Other sanctions included point reduction from the teams Palermo, Taranto, Avellino, Bologna, and Perugia for the 1980–81 season. It was surely one of the biggest scandals in the history of Serie A.
Paolo Rossi was disabled for two seasons. After spending two years off the field, his name called up for Italy national team participating in the 1982 world cup. Surprisingly Rossi led azzurri to the championship with his vital goals in the tournament like his hat-trick against Brazil. As the top scorer of the competition, he was awarded with Golden Boot and the Golden Ball indicating him as the best player. Later that year, he received both the Onze d'Or and Ballon d'Or, the best football player in Europe and the world respectively.
Italy faced strong opponents like Brazil Argentina and West Germany and defeated them. After the World Cup Championship, Italy federation decided to decreed a remission of penalties. This remission was for the players who could return to the field in the following season. 1980–81 season ended with AC Milan promoting to Serie A after winning Serie B title. However, Lazio remained another season in Serie B.
In the following season that Lazio promoted, AC Milan again relegated from Serie A, but this time because of the poor results. Meanwhile Juventus celebrated its 20th scudetto that meant there will be two stars above Old Lady's logo. In 1983–84 season, AC Milan again won Serie B and promoted. Apparently, everything was back to normal but it was only a quantum of solace. After one of the biggest scandals in the history of Serie A, golden age of Milan arrived.
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In May 1986, a friend of Italo Allodi, the Napoli manager, told the police about betting and match fixing revival. Allodi is also known for his notorious protege Luciano Moggi. The Second version of Totonero was not going to be one of the biggest scandals in Serie A history. Udinese was the only Serie A club sentenced with relegation, but it reduced to minus nine points starting the 1986–87 Serie A season. Lazio had the same sanction but they were already relegated to Serie B. Meanwhile AC Milan had a new owner named Silvio Berlusconi, who later became the Italy Prime minister and that led to the golden age of Milan.
In 1994, Juventus and Fiat owners, Gianni and Umberto Agnelli were concerned because it was eight years since Juventus' last scudetto. Agnelli brothers were watching AC Milan ruling European football since Silvio Berlusconi bought the club in 1986. Agnelli brothers came up with major changes in club's staff. Antonio Giraudo, former executive of Fiat company, became Juventus managing director. He hired Luciano Moggi from Roma to be club's sporting director. Back then, Moggi was known for his skills in the transfer market. No one thought one of the biggest scandals in the history of Serie A is about to happen.
Juventus former striker, Roberto Bettega, joined the club as the Vice-president. Marcello Lippi who had a successful season at the Napoli replaced Giovanni Trapattoni, who left Juventus to became Bayern Munich manager. Beneath these major changes at the club, there was another one that later became important. Riccardo Agricola, who was in the medical team since 1985, promoted to the club's doctor.
At the time, Juventus had top players like Angelo Peruzzi, Antonio Conte, Gianluca Vialli, and Alessandro Del Piero. But Moggi made Lippi's team full of stars. Roberto Baggio, Ciro Ferrara, Alessio Tacchinardi, and Didier Deschamps were a few of them.
Changes paid off very well. Juventus won both domestic titles, Coppa Italia, and scudetto. In the UEFA Cup, they lost the final match against Parma and finished as runners-up. The following season was completely opposite. Juventus finished second in Serie A and was eliminated in Coppa Italia, but instead, they defeated Ajax in a close match and won the UEFA Champions League's final after 11 years. Back then, Ajax was one of the best teams in football history. Luciano Moggi added Christian Vieri and Zinedine Zidane to Juventus squad for the next season. Juventus won the Serie A title but lost in the UCL final match against Borussia Dortmund.
In the 1997–98 season, they defended their Serie A title. But in UCL, they lost their third consecutive final against Real Madrid. Jupp Heynckes, Real manager, had players like Roberto Carlos, Raul, Seedorf, and Redondo in his line-up.
The team Giraudo, Moggi and Lippi built, had a marvelous era but after controversial comments by Zdenek Zeman some questions raised. Zdenek Zeman, who was AS Roma's manager at the time, believed that some results in football were under the influence of something other than football. In 1998, he pointed his finger at Juventus players and said to L'espresso magazine "get out of the pharmacy". This interview is a key point in one of the biggest scandals in the history of Serie A
After that, a local magistrate started to investigate those claims. After searching Juventus facilities, 281 different types of drug were found. But hardly any of them were illegal at the time. The investigations on one of the biggest scandals in the history of Serie A continued until 2002 that enough evidence was collected for the trial. It turned out that Antonio Giraudo and Riccardo Agricola had a plan to give pharmaceutical products to almost all of the club's players between July 1994 and September 1998.
The court questioned those players. Gianluca Vialli admitted Agricola regularly administered substances without justification. Zinedine Zidane and Alex Del Piero also admitted taking substances but they believed they were creatine and vitamin injections.
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Juventus players were suspected to take substances like Samyr, Neoton and EPO. Samyr, a powerful anti-depressant, was taken by 23 players, even though "none of these players showed any signs of depression", according to Muller. Neoton, a drug used to protect the heart, was taken by 14 players. In 2004, Turin court found Agricola Guilty, and sentenced him with 22 months in jail. But Giraudo's charges were cleared. Riccardo Agricola has recently rejoined Juventus in its Medical facility. It is certainly one of the biggest Serie A scandals in history.
If you take a look at the Serie A champion's list from 1929 until today, you may notice two blank gaps in it. The first one is between 1943 to 1945. Due to second world war those years don't have any champions. The other gap is for 2004–05 and 2005–06 seasons. Both of them once had Juventus name on. Let’s see how the most infamous one of the biggest scandals in the history of Serie A was revealed.
Quiet like gangster movies, the first evidence of this Serie A biggest ever scandal was an intercepted phone call.
In one of the worst Serie A scandals of all time, Luciano Moggi and Antonio Giraudo were contacting Italian football officials asking for referee appointments in their favor. Apparently, referees like Pierluigi Collina and Roberto Rosetti were "too objective" for them. Despite Juventus general managers playing the main role, other clubs were involved too. Franco Carraro, Italian football federation president and his vice president, Innocenzo Mazzini resigned from their role. But the phone calls were not limited to domestic officials.
Pierluigi Pairetto, vice chairman of the UEFA, Referees Committee until the summer of 2006. In 2006 it turned out that he had regular phone calls with Moggi setting Juventus' favorite referees for the matches in the UEFA Champions League. Pairetto faced three and a half years ban from football and lost his position in UEFA. Wiretaps also revealed that Moggi made calls to government minister Giuseppe Pisanu while Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi was the Prime Minister.
Juventus was the center of Serie A biggest ever scandal, Calciopoli, but other Serie A clubs involved with them. Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina and Reggina were supporting characters of this gangster movie. After many trials, punishments had come. Luciano Moggi and Antonio Giraudo sentenced with a lifetime ban from football.
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The 2004–05 and 2005–06 scudetti were stripped from Juventus. In original punishments, Juventus, Fiorentina, and Lazio were supposed to relegate to Serie B, but in final punishment only Juve relegated. Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina started the next season in Serie A with -8 -15 -3 and -11 points. Juventus faced nine points deduction in Serie B.
In one of the biggest scandals in Serie A history, the worst part for Juve was the 2006 scudetto that handed to Inter. Inter is the main rival of Juventus in Italy. Although many bianconeri stars stayed with Juventus, some of the most valuable players departed with low prices. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Patrick Viera joined Inter with a combined €25 millions. Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson joined Real Madrid for €14 millions, Lilian Thuram and Gianluca Zambrotta went to barcelona for €13.5 millions.
That was a harsh era for the Old Lady. Despite the nine points deduction, Juve managed to win Serie B title and return to Serie A where Inter was dominating without any problem. It took four years for Juventus to become Italian champions again. In 2010, when Inter became the first Italian club winning the Treble, Juventus had a revolution again in management staff. Andrea Agnelli became the new chairman of the team.
Although Juve didn't win the title, Inter also couldn't extend its scudetti run. Juventus pursued the Calciopoli case with an allegation that Inter does not deserve to win the 2006 title. In Juventus' book, 2011–12 scudetto was their 30 St and they should wear a three star logo. Since legally they had only 28 league titles Juve wore starless logo shirt.
After the last one on the list of Serie A biggest ever scandals, Juventus has won all the league titles until this day and now they have more than 30 scudetti by any count. They also have the best selling Cristiano Ronaldo shirt with three stars on its logo. Today, no one can question their reign in Italy because they win the matches on the field.