Cheating Is Sort Of Bad; But Perhaps You Noticed That We Won The World Cup?

His name is Cesare Ruperto -- and he decides who shall stay and who shall goThe original story was that the rulings would come down on Sunday. But then Italy beat Germany and qualified for the World Cup Final, and the powers that be decided it would be in poor taste to ruin the day of the final with bad news about Italian football. Fine. We’ll do it Monday. But then Italy beat France and, well, no one wanted to break up that party, certainly not quite so soon. Not before a few parades and rallies at least. So they moved it to Friday, 7 pm (Italian time). That’s when the word would come down in re: will all these big clubs be punished for cheating?

Of course, 7 pm (Italian time) came and went. 8 pm, they said. And at 8 pm, we got the word (which, in all fairness, had already been reported by La Gazzetta Dello Sport): Juve, Fiorentina, and Lazio would all be sent to Serie B, and would start the season docked 30 (30!), 12, and 7 points, respectively. AC Milan would get to stay in Serie A, but would start at -15 in the table. None would be eligible to play in Europe. And Juve will forfeit the scudettos they’ve won the past two seasons (though the authorities aren’t quite sure to whom said scudettos will be awarded — Inter looks a likely beneficiary).

The quick reaction here is that Juve got off easier than some had thought (no demotion to C, which would have killed the club), Fiorentina will likely spend at least two seasons in B with Juve, Lazio has a shot at a quick turnaround, and Milan, well, Milan will just have to suffer through a yawner of a season at the San Siro.

Of course, all the verdicts of the “Sports Court” can be appealed, and we should expect a few more weeks of wrangling before the decision is final (which essentially means that each of the sentences will be softened by 15-20 percent).

So great, the authorities in Italian sport have shown the big clubs that they aren’t above the law. Wonderful. You really have to appreciate the irony about all this, though, given that the national team (all of whom play in Serie A) just WON THE WORLD CUP. You can almost imagine the arguments in the hearings:

“Sure, there is evidence of tampering. So what? A couple rich guys really wanted to win more than the other rich guys. Maybe a couple people made a little extra money on some wagers. So what? Does it actually hurt calcio? OF COURSE NOT! We just won the World Cup! Maybe this one particular quiz show was crooked, but we’re still the better than everyone else at quiz shows! Fine, we shouldn’t have spoken about the refs on the phone. Yes yes, it looks terrible. But, really, is it so bad that Signor Agnelli really likes to win? We are still champions of the world!”

(Really, it isn’t so crazy.)

Juve demands an appeal (B without a points deduction) [La Gazzetta]
From jubilation to relegation as Italy’s world is ripped apart [The Times (London)]

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