Italian professional football has been dramatically affected by the recent series of match-fixing scandals. Unfortunately, such a phenomenon does not represent news in Italy: indeed, the first episode of such occurred in the early 1980s (the so called scandals of Totonero and Totonero-bis) leading even to the intervention of police to conducts arrests at the Olympic Stadium of Rome on live TV.
As result of the sport governing body proceedings ('sports proceedings'), many clubs received a penalty consisting of a reduction of points or relegation to the lower league, while a large number of players and managers were suspended or expelled.
In Summer 2011 history repeated itself with another big scandal affecting football - named by the media as "Scommessopoli" - including footballers, managers and clubs of the top 3 leagues (namely, Serie A, Serie B and Lega Pro). Everything started on 1 June 2011 when many individuals belonging to the world of football and betting were remanded in custody following the investigations (operation "Last Bet") carried out by the Prosecutor's Office of Cremona (a small city in the north of Italy). What surprised the public the most was that the beginning of the entire scandal came from some poisoned bottles! In what sense? The goalkeeper of the local club of Cremona (i.e. Cremonese) was charged with the administration of tranquilizers to his oblivious teammates in order to limit their physical performances and, consequently, alter the correct and loyal conduct of the match. This happened following a mob of illegal betters betting a lot of money onthe defeat of the club, having reached an agreement with the goalkeeper.
Following the investigations of the Sports Federal Prosecutor's Office, 26 registered individuals with the Federation and 18 clubs were judged by the National Disciplinary Committee of the FIGC (the Italian Football Federation) on several charges ranging from sporting fraud to breaching the prohibition of betting on football matches worldwide.
During the sports proceedings in August 2011, the judges essentially confirmed what the Prosecutor had reconstructed during his investigations: many registered individuals were sentenced for sporting fraud and suspended, while the clubs received a reduction of points due to their strict or presumed liability. Furthermore, 2 clubs were considered directly liable (due to involvement of their legal representatives) and, therefore, relegated to the lower division.
Then, the second phase of criminal investigations involved 22 clubs and 61 registered individuals, to be judged by the sports justice bodies as well (showing a good level of cooperation between ordinary justice and sports justice). Then the sports proceedings started from May 2012: at first instance, 21 clubs and 52 registered individuals were condemned (only 4 cleared). Furthermore, on 6 July 2012, before the FIGC Court of Federal Justice, only 7 appeals were upheld out of the total of 46.
At the same time, on 7 June 2012, the Federal Sports Prosecutor's Office simultaneously started a series of hearings with regard to the investigations carried out by the Prosecutor's Office of Bari, which involves some clubs of Serie A (the developments of which shall be probably of great interest).
This represents the chronicle of events so far.
As a result of this new scandal, the football governing bodies amended their internal regulations with the aim of avoiding these kind of events in the future. First, they increased the penalties as established by theFIGC Code of Sports Justice and the obligation to report unlawful conduct has been broadened. Secondly, the new collective bargaining agreement ('CBA') between footballers and clubs of Lega Pro as valid for 2012/13 season, now expressly states the suspension of the payments when the player receives a ban by the sports justice bodies due to illegal betting or sporting fraud. The positive example of Lega Pro should lead the way for future CBA negotiations.
This post only represents a short useful introduction to the issues. In the following posts we will focus on other remarkable aspects of match-fixing and illegal betting, such as the specific sports regulations and the different types of liability for clubs.