In the summer of 2006, mere weeks before the national side would lift the World Cup, Italy was rocked by a sporting scandal that ran deep, and through some of its biggest soccer clubs. The scandal (which has since come to be known as Calciopoli) implicated Juventus, Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina and Reggina in selecting favorable referees for Serie A matches in the 2004-05 season.
The most noticeable of the punishments handed down was the relegation of Juventus to the second tier of Italian soccer, Serie B, as well as being stripped of their 2005 and 2006 Scudetto titles. The other clubs involved were all fined and docked points for the following season, Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina were excluded from European completion, and Reggina’s club president Pasquale Foti was banned from soccer for two and a half years.
The final punishments for the clubs involved came after a lengthy appeals process, with Fiorentina and Lazio originally slated for relegation to Serie B, and Juventus to Serie C1. This appeals process would be controversial in itself as it overturned the decision to exclude Milan from the 2006-07 UEFA Champions League, a competition they would go on to win.
In May 2006, prosecutors originally tasked with investigating doping allegations against Juventus released transcripts of wire-tapped phone calls that appeared to show officials from these clubs enlisting and pressuring referees for favorable outcomes in Serie A matches.
During the appeals process, Juventus were the only club found to have gained such favorable results - the reasoning behind the scale of their final punishment compared to the other clubs involved. The club refute these claims to this day, claiming that evidence of their crimes being more egregious does not exist. Juventus continue to claim the stripped Scudetto titles, with their jerseys for the 2012-13 season sporting the phrase “30 on the pitch”, referring to what would be the number of titles won by the club up to that point.
Perhaps no individual was as affected by the scandal as Juventus’ then-general manager Luciano Moggi. He was the man most implicated in the evidence gathered by prosecutors, and subsequently the individual to receive the most punishment – a life ban from soccer and a recommendation to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) that he not be involved with the governing body at any level.
On Moggi’s influence, Gazetta dello Sport journalist Giancarlo Galavotti told BBC Sport in 2006 that Moggi “has been considered as a sort of Godfather of Italian football”, and that “he was considered to be ruler of the transfer market. It was commonly felt there wouldn’t be a transfer in Italy without Moggi’s consent.”
In the wake of punishments meted out to their rivals, Internazionale would enjoy a period of dominance over the following seasons, with Juventus only truly returning to prominence in the 2011-12 season. Beyond such practical ramifications, Calciopoli has tarred the image of Italian football for many fans.