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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 08:28, May 11, 2006
Juve add weight to foul play accusations
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Juventus have for many years been accused by their rivals of lining the pockets of referees to influence results, and the latest scandal to rock Italian football only adds weight to their suspicions.

The Turin club is at the centre of an investigation by the Italian football federation (FIGC) after telephone conversations recorded last season between two Juventus directors and high-ranking FIGC officials were published.

In the conversations, Juve's general director Luciano Moggi tells Pierluigi Pairetto -- who at the time was responsible for selecting referees for the FIGC --which officials he would like assigned for his team's Serie A matches.

Juventus ended the season by winning the championship for a 28th time.

Also implicated in the scandal are another Juve director, Antonio Giraudo, and FIGC vice-president Innocenzo Mazzini.

The transcripts of the telephone conversations were passed on to the FIGC by Turin prosecutors in March, but Italian football's governing body inexplicably failed to take action.

They then found themselves in a highly embarrassing position last week when the transcripts were leaked to the press and splashed over the front page of every newspaper in Italy.

On Monday, Franco Carraro quit as FIGC president, saying it was in the best interests of the game with the World Cup a month away and Italy hoping to stage the 2012 European championships.

"Nothing indicates I did anything wrong in either my personal or institutional behaviour," said Carraro, who was mayor of Rome from 1989-93 and head of the Italian Olympic Committee from 1978-87.

"The tasks facing the FIGC in the next few months are so numerous and serious that it requires the federation's directors to be totally focused."

If things weren't bad enough for Moggi, he and his son Alessandro, head of GEA, who act as agents for many Italian footballers, are being investigated by prosecutors in Rome and Naples for unfair competition and abuse of market position, including threats of violence.

Moggi has been at Juve for 12 years, during which time the club has won six league titles. They need only a point from their final match against Reggina on Sunday to retain the Scudetto.

Juventus' rivals cried foul play in the 1997/98 season.

One point separated leaders Inter Milan from Juventus with four games remaining, when the teams met for a crunch showdown.

Juventus won 1-0, but referee Piero Ceccarini caused controversy by turning down claims for what looked like a blatant penalty when Inter's Brazilian striker Ronaldo was shoulder-charged to the ground by Mark Iuliano.

"It was a match in which everything was at stake. A year of work, a career," cried Inter manager Luigi Simoni after the match.

"Ceccarini was the only person in the world not to have seen the penalty."

Juventus added insult to injury by going on to become champions.

Two seasons later, Juve were battling for the title with Lazio and their challenge was beginning to falter with the Scudetto in sight.

Juve were hanging on to a 1-0 lead in their penultimate match of the season against Parma when Fabio Cannavaro (now a Juve player) headed what television replays confirmed to be a perfectly legitimate equalizer in injury time.

The Parma players could not believe it when referee Massimo De Santis disallowed the goal which enabled Juventus to maintain their two-point advantage going into the final game.

Lazio fans vented their anger by going on the rampage outside the FIGC's headquarters, while Lazio president Sergio Cragnotti declared his team moral victors of the Scudetto.

However, on this occasion Juve's highly-controversial victory wasn't enough.

In a rain-interrupted match at Perugia, Juve lost 1-0 while Lazio claimed the three points they needed from their last match to take the title.

The influential Agnelli family, who own Juventus, have vowed to clean up the tarnished image of Italy's most successful club.

According to Italian media reports, Moggi and Giraudo could be shown the door on Thursday.

Source: China Daily

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