BLOG ITALIA
Sunday July 17 2011
The Spinelli Syndrome

Livorno President Aldo Spinelli's place in the Calciopoli scandal provides the key to the whole affair, says Susy Campanale.

You are still writing in with responses to my last blog on the matter, so I felt a follow-up would help clarify where I stand on Calciopoli. It's too easy to say I am anti-Inter or consider the original trial to be rushed, flawed and with a clear agenda that led to vital evidence being ignored. The truth is I don't believe any of the clubs were actually guilty. The key to unlocking it all is Aldo Spinelli.

The latest FIGC report prompted prosecutor Stefano Palazzi to accuse Inter and Livorno of violating Article 6 (sporting fraud), which is considerably more serious than the multiple violations of Article 1 (unsportsmanlike behaviour) that saw Juventus demoted and Luciano Moggi banned for life. Had it not been for the statute of limitations, would Inter have been sent down to Lega Pro for that kind of behaviour? At first glance, it looks like cheating of the worst kind.

However, this is where Spinelli comes in. Anyone who remembers the fiery Livorno patron from 2006 will know he was famed for constantly criticising ‘the authorities' for favouring some clubs more than others. He was the ultimate conspiracy theorist, repeatedly threatening to pull Livorno out of Serie A in protest at the unfairness of the system, the corruption he felt was endemic and the idea his team would never be allowed to win because referees ensured the top clubs came out with results no matter what. If there was ever a man ready to rage against the ‘system' Calciopoli uncovered, then it was Spinelli, shouting in his lucky yellow plastic mac. So how did he get accused of cheating worse than anyone else?

The answer is simple and lies within the Italian psyche. All of life in the peninsula is based around one concept: ‘Everyone else is going to bend the rules and try to rip me off. What am I, stupid?' Therefore people try to pre-empt the inevitable cheating by taking a moral short-cut as a preventative measure. I see this as the reason behind the entire Calciopoli affair.

If enough clubs and directors feel their rivals are bending the rules to gain an advantage, they get paranoid and will try to ‘even things out.' This was the phrase we heard again and again during the trials, from Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina, Inter and anyone else caught calling up the refereeing designators to complain. “We were just trying to protect ourselves.” Like Don Quixote, we ended up with all the sides flailing wildly against an imaginary enemy. They all broke the rules because they assumed everyone else was doing it, which in the end became a self-serving prophecy.

So I do not accuse Inter of cheating. I merely point out the Nerazzurri did exactly the same thing as Juventus, Fiorentina, Milan, Lazio, Reggina and Livorno. Let's call it the Spinelli Syndrome.

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