BLOG ITALIA
Thursday August 2 2012
Conte's stand

It’s not about Juventus or Antonio Conte, as Susy Campanale warns the sporting justice system in Italy is deeply flawed.

Antonio Conte was talked into accepting a plea bargain by his lawyers, one that made it very clear this was not an admission of guilt when charged with failing to alert authorities to an attempted sporting fraud. When that was rejected by the Disciplinary Commission, the Coach decided to take a stand. He and Juventus are embarking on a battle that could change the sporting justice system in Italy forever – and it’s about time too.

Let me be clear, lest many stop reading this blog already and accuse me of white-washing history: I am not a Juventus supporter and I am most certainly not accusing the FIGC of creating some anti-Bianconeri conspiracy stretching back to Calciopoli. That would be daft. What I am saying is that Conte’s situation is a perfect example of why the current system does not work. It could easily be argued it is also a sign of a wider problem within the Italian civil justice system, but that is for another day.

The evidence against Conte is simple – former Siena player Filippo Carobbio claims the Coach said in a team meeting that results were ‘secured’ against Albinoleffe and Novara during the 2010-11 Serie B campaign. That is the entirety of the evidence. One man’s word. This man who had already been caught in contact with betting syndicates and confessed with the promise of bringing bigger names to the prosecutor in exchange for a large discount on his own punishment.

This issue of the ‘pentiti’ – penitents – has been a problem throughout the civil justice system for several decades, most notably in the 1980s and 90s when high-profile showbiz celebrities were dragged through the mud simply because they were named by Mafia underlings who wanted a discount on their sentences. After lengthy trials and even spells in prison, those innocent figures were cleared of all wrong-doing.

Juventus launched a scathing attack on the system, suggesting it protected confessed criminals more than those who profess their innocence. That is without a shadow of a doubt true. The Italian approach to justice seems to consider you guilty until you can prove your innocence, which is somewhat difficult when it’s one man’s word against another.

Except in Conte’s case, it is one man’s word against 24 others. The other players who were in that Siena team meeting all testified that the Coach never mentioned or alluded to ‘fixed’ results. Their testimony has been discarded by the prosecutor. As Conte is charged with failing to alert authorities to something untoward, then either he is innocent or the other 23 players are lying and should also be charged. The fact those ex-Siena men have not been charged just makes the whole thing look completely meaningless.

The prosecutor in his own way already showed he doubts Carobbio’s testimony. After all, Carobbio originally accused Conte of something that would amount to sporting fraud, but the prosecutor realised it wouldn’t stick and opted for the less serious ‘failing to alert authorities.’ This way, the prosecutor has cherry-picked which parts of Carobbio’s story to believe. Why? Either he is a credible witness or he isn’t, you can’t rest an entire case on half-believing a testimony. The more you look at what evidence Conte has against him, the more you can see why he is so angry.

I welcome Conte and Juventus standing up to the prosecutor and the Disciplinary Commission, demanding to see them make a case out of this pitiful evidence. Maybe it will have repercussions throughout this and future sporting trials that risk ruining careers without genuine proof. It might also discourage the dawn raids on people’s houses and training grounds when they have repeatedly offered to testify and been ignored.

Some of you will say, but Conte accepted a plea bargain, so isn’t that an admission of guilt? Not in Italy it isn’t. The justice system is insanely long – so that we are still seeing rulings made on Calciopoli six years later in numerous courts of appeal. It has become a tacit agreement that it suits all parties to just work out a plea bargain and get it over with, saving everyone time and money. This is especially true in the civil courts, where the vast majority of people handed prison sentences don’t ever sit behind bars. Again, this was thanks to a law passed because there was not enough space in the jails. As I said, it is a very strange system in Italy.

Many Juventini, including President Andrea Agnelli, will take this as an opportunity to get payback for Calciopoli. With hindsight and the benefit of wiretapped Inter phone calls that were somehow completely ignored at the time of the trial, Juve could’ve fought those charges a lot harder. It’s not so much that they were innocent – they weren’t – but rather that Luciano Moggi had a point when he said everyone was doing it. The wiretaps showed less of a Juve-led cabal and more of a general moaning towards the referees from all quarters.

In any case, including Calciopoli in this legal battle risks muddying the waters. Conte’s situation is entirely separate and must be treated as such, otherwise people will get swept up in the usual club rivalries and ignore the evidence. It suits everyone to change the current sporting justice system, because sooner or later any of the clubs could find themselves forced to prove innocence when guilt is assumed. 

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Have your say...
o come on people its only susy campanale how can you take her blog serious she is a well known bunga bunga fan and hates inter she will have a dig at inter at first opportunity i think she well be in an italian court very soon for trying to influence feelings against inter and damage the clubs rep a person in her position has to be a neutral and not biased
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 3:19am
Susy, I applaud you on a very good article. An unbias and accurate view of how sick the Italian sporting judges and system are. A very sick culture, and a backward approach to how to approach, treat and deal with these cases. I think and agree with you that the current system is flawd and extremely despicable when some one is treated guilty and is forced to prove his innocence. I agree, a win for conte would be a win to change the entire way of how they approach sporting cases.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 3:18am
Good article. Moggi didn't do anything that everybody else wasn't doing. Juventus were ruined for 6 years by the FIGC and Inter only won the titles as a result of Juve going down and being forced to sell all their champions minus a few. Conte will beat this because there is no evidence except another man's word. I live in the USA. This wouldn't have even got a trail or a plea bargain. With a good lawyer it would have been thrown out. You should be innocent until proven guilty, not this way.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 2:41am
perhaps Juventus should consider moving to Ligue 1 or the Bundesliga. They are Italy's finest team, and use mostly Italian players, and yet the FIGC is trying to hurt Juventus. I cant imagine why.
I only hope this injustice galvanises the Juventus squad and makes Conte and the players work harder in training, with great results on the field
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 2:23am
Top article. Thanks Susy.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 1:14am
Why are you asking to hear the evidence? The evidence was in the article, it is 1 guilty man trying to worm his way out of jail time by bringing others down with lies. And stop with the "everyone targeting Juve" comments, this isnt about Juve, this is about a flawed legal system where criminals can make up rubbish to save their own skin. Imagine a justice system that takes the word of a criminal and prosecutes innocent people, this is what Italy has.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 12:59am
Its Inters fault! Morratti is by far a bigger crook than Moggi and Angelli, hes probably has that Carrabaio guy in his payroll.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 12:53am
As Juventino i fell that we never have to hire cheaters again, the CLUB is bigger than a individual so get out of our way CONTE, BONUCCI and PEPE!. Thanks to you the whole contry thinks we cheated again and again! but this time we didnt!!!!!!!
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 12:49am
After reading the wire taps from Calciopoli and watching Inter receive no punishment and Juventus getting the worst of it i lost faith in the FIGC. If you read the wire taps Inter's involvement was deep and somehow ignored so there is a seriously biased opinion high in the FIGC chain of command.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 12:04am
To the anonymous guy who described Roma as innocent whistleblowers...is this the same Roma who's president (Sensi)was known to give Rolex watches to referees and FIGC executives as Christmas presents?
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 11:59pm
Let's face it Juve are back on top and people went to crumble the empire. So every time Juve win the Scudetto will there be a trial against players and managers?
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 11:02pm
thank you suzy! its about time someone stood up to this disgraceful justice system. Forza Conte!
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:42pm
The other players who "didn't hear" the comment aren't exactly disinterested witnesses though, are they? Why would Conte even consider a plea bargain if there was no real evidence against him?

He's not making a stand and it's cheap journalism to suggest that he's some sort of hero, he offered the plea bargain and now he has no alternative but to go through with the matter. Innocent or guilty, let's actually hear the evidence before we come to any conclusions.
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:42pm
Well-written article, but give me a break on Moggi.

The man is a crook and disgraced Serie A. I see your point about other teams doing it, but that doesn't excuse his blatent manipulation of referees. And it wasn't "everyone" doing it, as teams like Roma have been known for being honest whistleblowers (eg. Baldini and Zeman in 98).

Regarding Conte, the public doesn't know all the facts. Frankly, he might be unjustly made into a scapegoat to send a message, but we don't know for sure
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:41pm
@arjen - u are a bit of a numpty arnt u! have u not read the article? and more to the point do u know anytthing about the Italian Backward system??! this has nothing to do with Juve as a club biut an individual who has teh right fight this farce of a charge! so in ur world a bent lyin cheats word to get a lighter sentence against 24 others! is a fact? and should be taken as punishment? u fool! read the article! and go read up on some italian law..Geez pal! u sound like Moratti!
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:34pm
Great take on it Susy. Completely agree.

@Arjen. Did you not read the whole thing? In Italy you are not considered guilty if you accept a plea bargain. NOT, I repeat.

@Oliviero well said. Its an archaic system the Italian law system. It is so backwards that it risks blowing calcio back a few hundred years too.

Personally, this whole thing is just so disappointing. Italian football is eating itself from the inside out and soon there will be nothing left...but Inter.
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:23pm
I thought its only in Nigeria that we've a corrupt system of justice. But now I understand that the italian system is more corrupt than our own, because in Nigeria there is no way the judge can accept the words of one person who is already guilty and reject the words of 23 innocent men without charging them all. Because, if Carobbio is 2rue about what he said regarding Conte, then, all the 23 men also fail to report the attempted match fixing. Now, is ether the FIGC let conte go freely or they should charge all the 23 men equally as they charged him. Else, it'll be clear to every1 in the world that FiGC is nothing but anti-juventus!!! FORZA JUVE!
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:15pm
I have been reading news/blogs every day for the last 8-9 years on this page, but I have to say that this is the best blog ever. The way it's written is really amazing and even though I'm not a fan of Juve, this blog really shows how bad the Italian justice system is.. Worse system ever.
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:13pm
Crazy things in Italy.
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:12pm
The FIGC are conducting a witch-hunt on Juventus. The rejection of the original plea bargain confirms this. Kafka could not have imagined this turn of events. Absurd.
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:08pm
Well done, Susy. A spotlight really needs to be placed on this disgusting system of "justice". As a lawyer in the USA, the bolts fall out of my brain every morning as I follow these proceedings in the media. Forcing someone to prove that an event ddn't happen? Discarding the testimony of 24 law-abiding witnesses in favor of an admitted cheat? Juve's lawyers are fighting for all of us now.
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:05pm
Great article. Minus two parts:

1) "This man who had already been caught in contact with betting syndicates and confessed with the promise of bringing bigger names to the prosecutor in exchange for a large discount on his own punishment."

Him getting a reduced sentence by naming Conte is innuendo, which hasn't been documented

2) Do not ever say something like "Moggi had a point". I am not God, and I do not see all sin as being equal. Moggi's ring, was RIDICULOUSLY more far reaching, and criminal. Juventus were 'unfairly' punished as far as the charges that actually stuck, and the comparitive non-punishment, or punitive punishments for other teams. But the "charges that stuck" were a disgusting slap on the wrist for that crook called Moggi.
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:04pm
This is a good article and sums up my feelings on the case. It is important to point out that this isn't just about Juventus, because lots of people have been charged, and this whole process of plea bargaining to avoid the bother of a long court case doesn't sit comfortably.

Are the prosecutors interested in investigating this properly, or handing out punishments to create the illusion that they're sorting the problem?
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:02pm
By wanting to bargain 3 months, you directly admit being guilty, otherwise you wouldnt make such an offer when you KNOW you are innocent.

juve boys that keep on pretending their club is all clear are unbelievable: yes it is all a conspiracy and juve is as clean as a newly bought madonna statue... yeah sure.

a fox looses his hairs but never its trick... typical, one wonders why no one apart from juve fans take them seriously anymore... o yeah i do: because when there is smoke, there IS fire!
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 10:00pm
As a Juventus fan and an italian fan I think this is a disgrace how they can destroy one of italys brightest up and coming managers career on what one player says! The plea bargin was to lower his own ban which he doesnt deserve. Conte should fight for his innocents an get back to the Juventus bench. While the italian federation sort their own people out!! Froza juve!!
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 9:56pm
Great article. Thank you!
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 9:54pm
This case is so backwards, and to think of how the "responsible" persons/clubs have been given a slap on the wrist, while high profile bystanders have to defend themselves tooth and nail, is just ridiculous.

This is not justice, this is a mockery of true justice. Who initially set the game? who bet big money? who paid players off? Those are whom these prosecutors should be sentencing...
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 9:54pm
Great piece. Crisp and simple. Agreed.
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 9:49pm
The way this sounds to me is that Palazzi and the prosecutors are being allowed to try and convict people on hear-say evidence, which is something that hasn't been acceptable evidence in a serious justice system since the Middle Ages!
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 9:38pm
Now i start to believe that "real" mafia in italy are the FIGC & Commitee whose supported by law system...
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 9:36pm

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