SII Focus 27th March 2015

Calciopoli: former Juventus executives escape jail

On Monday 23 March, Italy’s supreme court ruled that former executives Luciano Moggi and Antonio Giraudo will escape jail, as the statute of limitations prevented them from being charged for alleged criminal association. Luca Smacchia, a trainee lawyer with Studio legale Grassani Urbinati e Associati in Bologna, examines what has happened and why, and the implications that the Supreme Court’s ruling holds for the ongoing Calciopoli investigation.

 

Former Juventus executives Luciano Moggi and Antonio Giraudo won’t face jail, after a ruling of the Italian Supreme Court (Corte Suprema di Cassazione) eliminated their previous prison sentences. Through the verdict issued (without grounds) on Monday 23 March, Moggi and Giraudo were cleared of previous charges of criminal association and sporting fraud as the criminal claim went beyond the statute of limitations, which prohibits prosecutors from charging somebody with certain crimes that were committed a specified number of years ago. In effect, the criminal case ‘timed out’ and the previously issued sentences were written off. However, Moggi and Giraudo cannot be deemed truly acquitted.

The ‘Calciopoli’ scandal began in May 2006, when Italian newspapers published transcripts of recorded telephone conversations between Moggi, Giraudo, Italian football association (FIGC) officials and referee designators, which appeared to suggest that Moggi and Giraudo were attempting to influence referee assignment. The FIGC punished six clubs and nineteen people. Arezzo, Fiorentina, Milan, Lazio and Reggina suffered points deductions. Juventus, judged to be the most involved club, was stripped of the 2005 and 2006 national titles and was relegated to Serie B, the Italian second division, with a nine point penalty.

At the same time, the FIGC punished Moggi and Giraudo with a five-year ban, but later banned them for life from membership of the FIGC at any level. Although the court did not formally acquit him, following its ruling Moggi has indicated that he will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the FIGC’s lifetime ban. Moggi was Juventus’ former General Manager and Giraudo its former Chief Executive.

The criminal trial started in 2008 and after three years, the Court of Napoli sentenced Moggi to five years and four months imprisonment, reduced on appeal to two years and four months. It sentenced Giraudo to two years and four months imprisonment, reduced on appeal to one year and four months.

At the closure of criminal proceedings, the only convicted person was former referee Massimo De Sanctis, the only person that didn’t see his sentence cleared. In fact, the former referee was sentenced one year and eleven months by the Court of Napoli, reduced to one year on appeal and confirmed on Monday by the Supreme Court. De Sanctis was condemned for criminal association, a crime that under art. 415 of the Italian criminal code should be committed by at least three people. This may mean that even if the charges against the other indicted people  are dropped due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, the Supreme Court did not completely discard the findings of previous verdicts.

However, these circumstances will be clarified when the Italian Supreme Court releases the grounds for the decision. These developments are also likely to affect the ongoing litigation between Juventus and the FIGC. The Turin club is seeking €443 million in  compensation from  the FIGC for damages it believes were caused by its relegation to Serie B. The determinations of the Supreme Court, that ascertained criminal offences connected to Calciopoli, may lead to a change of strategy by the Vecchia Signora (the Old Lady – Juventus’ nickname), as its claim is principally founded on the inexistence of the criminal association.

LucaSmacchia

Luca Smacchia
Studio legale Grassani Urbinati e Associati – Bologna
lucasmacchia@hotmail.it

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