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Posts Tagged ‘Massimo Moratti’

Last week I wrote about the Calciopoli scandal and Inter’s apparent involvement. I noted that I wanted to do some more research on the subject, so that’s exactly what I’ve done. I can’t say that I dislike the Nerazzurri without knowing all the facts so further reading was definitely needed.

It’s safe to say Inter benefited from Calciopoli in a big way. Their biggest rivals were neutralised, all but ensuring their domestic dominance. The lack of competition meant they became Italy’s premiere football club by default and it’s only recently that Milan and Juventus have showed signs of recovering.

This alone isn’t enough of a reason to dislike Inter. The threads linking them to Calciopoli and the arrogance they’ve shown in its aftermath, however, most certainly are. Christian Vieri’s allegations and Massimo Morrati’s involvement with Telecom Italia (documented in my previous entry) are too strong to ignore, and I’m inclined to believe that this whole thing isn’t just a coincidence.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but it doesn’t look good for Inter. The Nerazzurri’s involvement in the scandal was revealed last year with the not-so-shocking revelation that Inter had also contacted the referee designators, but they cannot be prosecuted as this took place more than two years ago. Italian law, eh? Gotta love it.

Had Inter’s involvement been revealed at the same time as their rivals then they would certainly have been punished. They might have not been dealt with as severely as Juventus, but the would’ve (and should’ve) felt the implications of their underhand actions.

Why didn’t this happen? Guido Rossi. A close friend or Moratti, Rossi headed TIM (a branch of Telecom Italia), the company that revealed the wiretappings and leaked the implication conversations, in 2006. Rossi was there when it all went down. There’s no way he wouldn’t have known about Moratti and Giacinto Facchetti’s conversations with the designators.

Paolo Bergamo, the chief referee designator, has openly revealed that nobody contacted him more than Facchetti during this period but his words were swept under the rug. Rossi knowingly ignored the Nerazzurri wiretaps that we now know existed, and it’s a sham that he hasn’t yet been prosecuted.

Where did these wiretaps come from? Two police officers with pending charges for interfering with wiretaps where, at the time, in-charge of handling all wiretap recordings and handing them to the prosecution. These officers were handed the intercepts by another officer, Adamo Bove, who was heading the wiretap operation and had set-up shop in a Telecom Italia building. Who was the work comissioned by? Massimo Moratti.

Bove’s secretary later revealed that instructions to disregard certain intercepts were passed onto everyone on the team, which explains why the Inter wiretaps weren’t revealed at the time. These confessions where heard in court on July 10th, 1996. Adamo Bove committed suicide 11 days later.

Moratti, when asked if he’d commissioned the wiretap operation, responded with uncertainty. “Yes I did. No, wait… maybe. I’m not sure.” This was in an interview with Corriere della Sera dated 31st August, 2006. The wiretaps were then, allegedly, illegally sold to the Gazzetta della Sport by the newspaper’s president, who also happened to be Inter’s vice president.

You do the maths.

It’s time to draw a line under this. I don’t know enough about Italian law to know if further implications could lead to Inter’s prosecution, but their comeuppance his to come. Calciopoli was Italian football’s darkest hour, and it’ll be years (maybe decades) before the league returns to its former glory. Inter must be punished for their role in what happened.

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After the negativity of the last two posts I think it’s only right to celebrate a brighter period of Inter Milan’s history today. The Nerazzurri are true giants of modern calcio, but their historic success has typically come in sporadic bursts. Inter haven’t always been as dominant as they are today (the 1990’s were particularly barren), but they’ve had some great teams over the years and none are more decorated than the Internazionale of the 1960’s.

Back (l-r): Sarti, Facchetti, Guarneri, Bedin, Burgnich, Picchi; front(l-r): Jair, Mazzola, Joaquim Peiro, Suarez, Corso

It started in 1960. Inter hadn’t won a championship since 1954 and had gone through three managers (Aldo Campatelli, Camillo Achilli and Giulio Cappelli) in the 1959-60 season. Seeking stability, the Nerazzurri turned to Franco-Argentine coach Helenio Herrera who’d just won consecutive Spanish titles with Barcelona.

European Footballer of the Year Luis Suarez (no, not that one) followed Herrera from Barcelona and became Inter’s chief playmaker for most of the decade. The Hispanic influence didn’t reap immediate rewards and Inter finished third and second in Herrera’s first two seasons in charge. The Nerazzurri continued their improvement in 1962-63 by winning Serie A. Using Herrera’s refinement of the Catenaccio system, Inter went from strength to strength.

Of course, it helped that they had some of the best players in the world to call-on. Suarez aside, Armando Picchi was one of the era’s biggest stars. Often referred to as “the first of the liberos,” Picchi was a pioneer. A wall of a sweeper, Picchi was Inter’s spare man at the back for years and always there to mop-up opposition attacks.

The liberos who followed him might’ve played with more grace, but Picchi’s supreme anticipation, vision and sense of position allowed him to snuff-out attacks with great efficiency. The Livorno-born player made 257 appearances in seven years with Inter, and, as Il Grande Inter’s captain, his contribution will never be forgotten.

Full-backs Giacinto Facchetti and Tarcisio Burgnich were equally pivotal with Facchetti in-particular leaving a lasting legacy on the modern game. Possibly the world’s first attacking full-back, Facchetti is rightfully remembered as one of the all-time greats. He dedicated his entire career to Inter, making 629 appearances between 1960 and 1978, and later joined the Nerazzurri board.

Brazilian Jair enjoyed two spells in Milan and was a key player despite never breaking through at international level, and inside-right Sandro Mazzola became a legend with the Nerazzurri. Inter were mostly known for their excellent defensive work at the time, but Mazzola still notched 116 goals in 417 league appearances despite the pragmatic nature of Italian football at the time.

These players and more reached the 1964 European Cup final. Inter were to meet a feared Real Madrid side that had reached seven of the past nine finals. The above players lined up alongside Giuliano Sartri, Carlo Tagnin, Aristide Guarneri, Joaquin Peiro and Mario Corso as Inter, the underdogs, scooped a 3-1 win. MazzoIl Grabbed the headlines with two goals in the final and Il Grande Inter’s legacy was well on its way.

Further European success followed in 1965 when Inter met Benfica in the final. A lone Jair goal was another to seal Inter’s second consecutive European Cup win in a season that also saw them win Serie A. Another domestic title followed in 1966, but it wasn’t long before the wheels fell off.

Inter failed to win a major trophy under Herrera after 1966. The 1967 European Cup final can be seen as a turning point. Inter faced-off against Celtic’s now-legendary Lisbon Lions with Jair sold, Facchetti fading and Suarez injured. The Nerazzurri lost-out to Celtic’s breathless attacking display, and erratic results during the 1969-70 saw Herrera sacked.

Three domestic titles and four European trophies (including two Intercontinental Cup wins) in four years is a record any team would be proud of and Il Grande Inter have earned their place in history. The Nerazzurri conceded an average of less than a goal a game under Herrera: their defence is legendary, and it’s something I’ll be exploring in an extended piece tomorrow.

Sadly, like the “great” Inter side of the 2000’s, Il Grande Inter’s legacy has been tainted by controversy. British newspaper The Times reported in 2003 that then-president Angelo Moratti had Hungarian referee Gyorgy Vadas in 1965 in an attempt to fix a European Cup tie with Malaga.

It was also suggested that Inter had made similar attempts at European Cup match-fixing during both of the previous seasons. Brian Glanville stated that Il Grande Inter’s success was “the fruit of bribery and corruption in which Angelo Moratti played a crucial part in a process implemented by two men also now dead: Deszo Szolti, the Hungarian fixer, and the serpentine Italo Allodi (Inter’s sporting director).”

There’s no doubt that this was an excellent side but their legacy has been severely tainted by these allegations. As if match-fixing wasn’t bad enough, ex-player Ferruccio Mazzola alleged that the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs was rife at Inter in the 1960’s. Chairman Massimo Moratti and president Facchetti (among those implicated by Mazzola) immediately sued.

Mazzola won the case in 2010, and it’s very telling that Inter decided against appealing. I’m no lawyer, but this suggests guilt to me. It’s probably no coincidence that these allegations rose under the ownership of Angelo Morrati and that Inter’s next big scandal (Calciopoli) came about under Angelo’s son’s (Massimo) stewardship.

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This week-and-a-half’s feature club is Inter Milan: the most successful Italian club of the last decade and one of the most storied clubs in world football. Inter are probably one of the first clubs you think of when Serie A is mentioned, and for good reason. They have been tremendously successful over the past few years and, despite their recent troubles, are one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Some of the world’s greatest players have strutted their stuff for the Nerazzurri over the years, and their list of honours is very enviable. Only Juventus (27) have won more than Inter’s 18 Serie A titles (although they’re tied with city rivals AC Milan) and their Barcelona-toppling, Champions League-winning 2009-10 campaign was remarkable. They are a hugely popular side with a big global fan base, and I really, really don’t like them.

It’s not because their popular or successful or because I have a big distaste for any of their personnel (I’m a big José Mourinho supporter and an admirer of Javier Zanetti). I dislike the Nerazzurri for the way they benefited from Calciopoli and the penalties handed to their biggest rivals, even though their hands were just as dirty as anybody else’s (except Juventus, perhaps).

I assume that if you’re reading this blog then you probably know a thing or two about Calciopoli already, but if not I’d recommend using good old Wikipedia (shhh, you at the back) to read up on it. If you don’t know it as “Calciopoli” then you’ll probably know it as the 2006 Italian Football Betting Scandal. Teams were accused of rigging games by selecting “favourable referees” for certain matches.

The case had huge ramifications for Italian football. Four of the implicated clubs (Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Juventus) were all initially relegated, but most punishments were overturned on appeal. Some of them were still pretty severe nonetheless:-

  • Milan were deducted 30 points for the 2005-06 season, meaning they finished third instead of second. They were also forced to play one game behind closed doors in 06-07, and started that season on -8 points.
  • Fourth-place Fiorentina were kicked out of the 06-07 Champions League, deducted 30 points for 05-06, had to play two games behind closed doors and started 06-07 on -15.
  • Lazio, who finished sixth, were also deducted 30 points and booted from European competition (the UEFA Cup this time). This deduction left them just three points from relegation. For 06-07 they started on -3 points and had to play behind closed doors twice.
  • Reggina’s president, Pasquale Foti, was fined approximately £20,000 banned from all football activity for 2½ years. The club were fined £68k and started 06-07 on -11 points.
  • Juventus were handed the sternest punishment. Their Serie C1 relegation was changed to a Serie B relegation on appeal, and they were stripped of the Serie A titles they’d won in 2005 and 2006. They were kicked out of the Champions League, fined £31million, started 06-07 on -9 points and played three games in an empty stadium.

I’d say that some of the punishments handed-out on appeal were a tad lenient given the enormity of the situation, but I’m no expert on the situation. Lazio, Milan and Fiorentina only started showing signs of recovery in recent seasons, Reggina are stuck in Serie B and Juventus haven’t been the same since. Considering Calciopoli’s impact on these clubs, maybe the punishments were fair after all.

It doesn’t take a genius to see how Inter benefited from all this. Aside from being awarded the 2005-06 Scudetto despite finishing third, Inter had effectively seen their biggest rivals (Milan and Juventus) neutered. The lack of competition helped them two four legitimate straight titles until last season’s post-Mourinho demolition job. They dominated, and even won the league by 22 points in 2007.

It speaks volumes of the impact Calciopoli had on Inter’s fortunes that they collapsed as soon as Milan were strong enough to mount another challenge. There is nothing exceptional about Allegri’s Rossoneri, but they were functional, consistent team and the strongest opposition Inter had had since the scandal. A lot of blame for Inter’s fall can be placed on Rafa Benitez’s dire man management and their ageing squad, but it’s no coincidence that they started to slide as their rivals recovered.

The Nerazzurri weren’t exactly flying before Calciopoli either. They won just three titles in 40 years between 1966 and 2006, and their awarded 2005-06 Scudetto was the first they’d “won” since 1989. Inter often finished seasons without qualifying for Europe. Inter were also-rans to Juventus and Milan, and even the two Rome clubs (Roma and Lazio) won Serie A during Inter’s barren decade-and-a-half.

Calciopoli turned them into a dominant force. They ruled the roost because there was nobody to challenge them, even if Roma did push them all the way in 2008. Mourinho’s influence shouldn’t be completely discounted but, on a domestic level, Inter were “better” by default.

I wouldn’t have had a problem with this if Inter hadn’t actively taken part in Calciopoli. They weren’t punished, right? That must mean they were innocent? I wouldn’t be writing this if I thought they were. Inter were just as guilty of tarnishing Italian football’s reputation by participating in the scandal as everyone else, and the way they’ve trumpeted themselves as an honourable club in the aftermath is arrogant and hypocritical.

Inter aren’t innocent. It was found last year that the Nerazzurri’s then-president Giacinto Facchetti (RIP) had contacted Italian football’s referee selection committee to “discuss” which referees should officiate their games, just as Fiorentina had done. I’m not conspiracy theorist, but it’s very suspicious that we’ve only just heard of these discussions and the telephone transcripts weren’t leaked to the press at the time (as Juve’s were).

Juve have always protested their punishment and it’s hard to feel sympathetic for them, but they do have a point. Why weren’t Inter implicated? The Bianconeri were crippled by Calciopoli, and, if what I’ve read is to be believed, Inter should’ve been reprimanded as well.

FIGC president Franco Carraro resigned in 2006 after the first wave of phone calls had been revealed. Guido Rossi, Inter’s vice president, came in to head the investigation and soon, not long after the verdict was announced, left his position to head TIM (a branch of Telecom Italia). Telecom Italia are Italy’s biggest telecommunications company, and the ones who wiretapped the phone conversations between convicted Juventus president Luciano Moggi and the referee selectors.

Last year’s Inter-implicating calls were leaked by Moggi’s lawyers, not Telecom Italia. Rossi was good friends with Inter president Massimo Moratti, who was also on the TIM board. Putting two-and-two together, it’s not hard to see what was going on. Rossi must’ve known what was going-on with Inter, and given his involvement with Moratti (and Moratti’s involvement with Telecom Italia) it would’ve been in everyone’s best interests to keep Inter’s Calciopoli involvement under wraps.

Again, I don’t want to fall for what could be a load of cloak and dagger nonsense, but it’s hard not to see this as a murky plot to cripple Juventus and establish Inter’s dominance (this is Italy, after all). Christian Vieri made allegations last year that his phone had been tapped by Inter (who wanted to spy on him) and that the Nerazzurri squad were forced to sign contracts promising not to mention the club’s plans to “bring Juventus and Milan down.”

“I am ready to show everyone the document, everyone knew what was happening. I was spied upon because I cannot keep these things locked up. 70% of the contract was to be paid by inter and the other 30% by Telecom (Italia)” – Vieri speaking to firenzeviola.it

The Calciopoli scandal continues to rage-on and attempts to prove Inter’s guilt continue. I’m willing to accept the possibility that these theories on the Nerazzurri’s involvement are nonsense, but it certainly doesn’t look like that’s the case. I’m going to use this week to do some more research on Calciopoli and hopefully get a better idea of what really happened during the 2005-06 season. The timing couldn’t be any better (with fresh Calciopoli-related sentences being handed-out last night), and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

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