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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ROME1539
2006-05-19 14:50:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Rome
Cable title:  

THE NOT-SO-BEAUTIFUL GAME: CORRUPTION SCANDAL

Tags:   PGOV  ECON  SCUL  IT 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO0998
PP RUEHFL RUEHNP
DE RUEHRO #1539/01 1391450
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191450Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4852
INFO RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHMIL/AMCONSUL MILAN 7122
RUEHNP/AMCONSUL NAPLES 1487
RUEHFL/AMCONSUL FLORENCE 1413
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ROME 001539 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON SCUL IT
SUBJECT: THE NOT-SO-BEAUTIFUL GAME: CORRUPTION SCANDAL
HITS ITALIAN SOCCER LEAGUE


This cable is Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for
distribution outside the USG, not for Internet
publication.



1. (SBU) Summary: A scandal over alleged match-rigging
by the Turin football squad Juventus is snowballing
into a broader investigation of corruption in Italy's
football league. Many top soccer federation officials
have resigned, and shares of publicly-traded teams
have crashed. Some members of the former center-right
government are under scrutiny for their ties to
disgraced ex-Juventus General Manager Luciano Moggi,
and there may be greater political fallout from this
scandal. AC Milan, a team owned by former Prime
Minister Berlusconi, is one of the squads under
investigation. Public prosecutors, who had planned to
attend an Embassy-sponsored IPR conference the week of
May 22, have cancelled due to the investigation. End
summary.

Juventus Accused of Match-Fixing


--------------------------





2. (U) The formation of a new center-left Italian
government this week (as well as the appointment of
Italy's new President of the Republic), faced strong
competition for media space by a massive match-rigging
scandal in the Italian soccer league. Prosecutors on
Thursday had sealed off the offices of Turin's
Juventus club, one of Italy's (and Europe's) most
popular football teams.



3. (U) The scandal centers on allegations that former
Juventus General Manager Luciano Moggi colluded with
referees to fix the outcome of matches or, at the very
least, ensure favorable calls in the team's favor.
[Note: The tendency of referees to make controversial
calls that go Juventus' way has long been a topic of
debate among Italy's football fans. End note.] The
Agnelli family, who control FIAT, owns 62 percent of
Juventus. The entire Juventus board has resigned,
reportedly under pressure from the Agnelli's; and most
executives in the Italian football federation,
including President Franco Carraro (a former Mayor of
Rome), have quit.

"Footballopoli"


--------------------------





4. (U) While Italy has dealt with match-fixing
scandals before, the latest seems to go far beyond
Juventus and involves rapidly expanding allegations of
financial fraud, illegal betting, drug use by players,
and collusion between Moggi and Italian politicians.
Italian newspapers are comparing this scandal to the
Tangentopoli (a.k.a. "Clean Hands") anti-corruption
cases of the early 1990s. Among those under
investigation is Moggi's son, who controls GEA, a
sports agency that represents many Italian soccer
stars. The younger Moggi allegedly coerced players
into signing with GEA with the threat that not doing
so would nix the possibility of career-enhancing
trades. Other squads, including AC Milan (owned by

former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi), Lazio, and
Florentina are also under investigation.



5. (SBU) While former PM Berlusconi is not a target of
investigators, former members of his government have
come under scrutiny by prosecutors. According to news
reports, investigators have wiretaps of conversations
between Moggi and former Interior Minister Giuseppe
Pisanu, who allegedly asked Moggi to "help" Pisanu's
hometown third-division team. Other intercepted
conversations allegedly include a call by Moggi to
then-Finance Minister Domenico Siniscalco seeking
favors for one of Moggi's friends, an officer in
Italy's financial police. [Comment: While the leak of
these wiretaps is certainly embarrassing for Pisanu
and Siniscalco, it is far from clear that either
minister did anything illegal. Moggi is a well-
connected figure, and we doubt that these are the only
government officials with whom he had regular contact.
End comment.]

The Financial Fallout


--------------------------





6. (U) Stock in the three publicly-traded teams fell

ROME 00001539 002 OF 002


precipitously this week, with Juventus shares alone
losing 42 percent. Although the 20 teams in Italy's
A-division collectively enjoy annual revenue of euro
1.3 billion, most operate in the red because of high
player salaries. This scandal will certainly hurt an
already struggling league.

Calling All Prosecutors


--------------------------





7. (SBU) Almost immediately after this scandal hit the
papers, the Embassy received calls from prosecutors
from Naples and Rome canceling their participation in
an Embassy IPR conference May 22-24. The magistrates
said they were unable to take time off to attend the
popular Embassy-sponsored event due to the ballooning
scandal, a sign that this is becoming a case of truly
national proportions.

Comment


--------------------------





8. (SBU) This case is rapidly expanding beyond the
confines of Italy's sports world. With so many
Italian political figures involved in soccer, there is
a high potential for even more spillover into Italian
politics. Romano Prodi's new government will be under
pressure to clean up this rapidly expanding mess.



9. (SBU) Perhaps the greatest damage, so far, has been
to Italy's international image. Since the "Clean
Hands" campaign of the 1990s, Italy has taken pains to
present itself as a normal country that has turned the
page on this kind of endemic, deep-seated corruption.
Italy's football league, like the pre-Clean Hands
Christian Democrats, may not survive this
investigation in one piece.

Spogli