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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Italian football in crisis
Brian Alexander
By Brian Alexander
BBC Radio Five Live presenter

The corruption scandal engulfing Italy has left the country with a real sense of shame.

Former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi is alleged to have fixed matches and pretty much controlled the Italian league.

It is claimed he had control of some of the top referees and administrators as well as over 220 players through an agency run by his son Alessandro, and the son of Italian coach Marcello Lippi, Davide.

AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio are also caught up in the scandal as are the national team, who are preparing for the World Cup.

FOOTBALL ITALIA: THE BIG FIX
Five Live Sport
BBC Radio Five Live
1 June 2006, 1900-2200

Italy, and the whole of European football, has not seen anything like this before.

I travelled there for three days last week to try to speak to the main players.

After a marathon 22-hour day, we cornered the owner of Palermo, Rino Foschi, in a restaurant at 0100 to gauge his views on what has been going on.

Foschi was having dinner with the directors of Sampdoria and Fiorentina in a restaurant in Milan and I managed to persuade him to have a brief conversation on tape with me.

The scene was like something out of a Godfather film, and I half expected Robert de Niro or Al Pacino to be sitting at the next table.

I also spoke to Giuseppe Gazzoni-Frascara, the former owner of Bologna. The club was relegated in 2005 and Gazzoni-Frascara told me it was as a result of the "Moggi system".

Former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi
Moggi resigned after Juventus won the Italian championship last month

He claimed that Bologna were not prepared to sign up and ended up being relegated instead of Fiorentina.

I set out to speak to Moggi himself, which none of the Italian media has managed to do - and I got very close.

Through various intermediaries he finally agreed for me to fly and meet him in Turin but it got vetoed by his lawyer, which was very frustrating.

However, we did manage to get the country's new sports minister, Giovanna Melandri, who said Italian football fans have suffered a great wound but insisted that things could be sorted out.

And I will be discussing the issue with Fifa president Sepp Blatter, world football's most senior figure, to get his take on the scandal.

My feeling as I left Italy was that the whole of their national game is in danger of imploding. How they are going to clean up a mess which is so interwoven?

Juventus celebrate their Italian championship win last month
Juve's title celebrations may be shortlived

This was highlighted at a press conference where Italian League president and AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani was speaking.

Some Italians believe he should have known what was going on and at the press conference a mob of about 50 fans gathered outside chanting and letting off smoke bombs. It was all pretty scary.

Juventus fans are in a particularly terrible position. They could see their club relegated to Serie B or even go out of business if the Agnelli family decides to stop funding the club.

There is real urgency here because all the national federations have to give Uefa the official lists of clubs who are competing in the Champions League and the Uefa Cup by 27 July.

Italian football will have to come up with some pretty strong answers and satisfy Uefa that they are in the process of cleaning up the game.

They have not got long to do this and there is the possibility that the biggest brands in world football like Juventus and AC Milan may not feature in Europe next season.



SEE ALSO
Italian football scandal latest
25 May 06 |  Europe
Italian football's tangled web
18 May 06 |  Europe
Italian FA under emergency rule
16 May 06 |  Europe


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