Wednesday May 27 2020
Only in Serie A: Passaportopoli

When limits on non-EU players were introduced, South American stars got a little creative with family trees, leading to a scandal that put Alvaro Recoba, Juan Sebastian Veron, Dida and others in the dock…

Words: Martin Mork

Several years before Calciopoli, there was Passaportopoli – the scandal that saw South American players trying to get around new limitations on non-EU players by finding long-lost Italian, Spanish or Portuguese ancestors that would guarantee them a passport. If they couldn’t locate a sufficiently European bloodline, that extra branch of the family tree could always be sketched in…

This controversy had so much that represents that particular Serie A approach to scandal: seeking short-cuts, ways to bend the rules until they are no longer recognisable and ultimately resolving the matter by just scrapping the rule that started it.

Perhaps none of it would ever have come to light if not for a particularly attentive Polish border official. In September 2000, Udinese travelled to Poland for a UEFA Cup tie against Polonia Warszawa only for Brazilian players Silva Warley and Valentim Alberto to be stopped at the border for possessing fake Portuguese passports.

The local police in Udine had to take action and found falsified passports belonging to the Brazilian trident Warley, Jorginho and Alberto, whilst Paraguayan Alejandro Da Silva was also registered with forged documents to help the club beat the limitations of five ‘non-Europeans’ in the squad, and only three included on matchdays.

Police officer Giuseppe Di Donno revealed that the Udine department had ‘managed to establish the false identities thanks to the signature of the civil servant featuring on the document’, getting confirmation by the Portuguese embassy. “The civil servant in question never existed, so we therefore treated the passport as false.”

Reigning champions Lazio had already been in trouble the year before, when Argentina international Juan Sebastian Veron was in the spotlight because of his naturalisation papers. The ‘distant relative’ from southern Italy couldn’t help him out – as the alleged great-grandparent from Calabria didn’t exist – and the talented midfielder was changed back to Southern American on their books.

Roma coach Fabio Capello was raging at the fact that the Scudetto winners Lazio were getting away with ‘cheating’ and waved his finger at the local rivals. “Last year Veron was ‘European’, this season they’ve re-registered him as ‘non-European’,” Capello said. “Ours is the only Federation that takes no action. If someone is a cheater, they should be penalised.” These were words he’d live to regret.

On October 8, 2000, only one week into the new season, reports flooded into newsrooms across Europe. Italian football, still recovering from a match-fixing scandal in the Coppa Italia, was rocked by another outrage.

The issue was raised weekly in the newspapers, but the FIGC didn’t act until five months had passed, starting their own enquiry. The caretaker Federation President was desperate to keep his relationship healthy with the voters among the top clubs in Italy and kept the investigation rather low-key.

A good five months after the Friuli side’s Brazilian duo were arrested in Poland, 15 players from six different teams emerged as having false paperwork, including Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida and Inter’s Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Recoba. The others were Alberto, Jorginho, Warley, Da Silva (Udinese), Dede, Jeda (Vicenza), Bartelt, Fabio Junior (Roma), Thomas Job, Ondoa and Francis Ze (Sampdoria). They were all suspended for between six months and a year. In the initial trial, only Veron was cleared, because he genuinely did believe there was an Italian ancestor. It seems the lawyer he hired to trace the family tree found it easier to simply make one up.

Somewhat embarrassingly for Capello and his complaint of cheaters, Roma’s South American duo Gustavo Bartelt and Fabio Junior were also suspended for a year for using false passports. Recoba was dropped from the line-up ahead of Inter’s match against Bologna on February 4 and returned to Uruguay. Luckily for him, the Nerazzurri stood by Chino and were waiting when his six-month ban expired in December 2001.

What usually happens in Italian football when it turns out half a dozen clubs have been breaking the rules? They do what’s easiest and just scrap the pesky regulation. Only days before the match between title challengers Juventus and Roma, the Federation decided to abandon the limits on nationality, letting the Giallorossi field more than three non-EU players.

Juventus were furious, as their fourth and fifth non-EU players were not very influential, but despite CEO Luciano Moggi fighting the mid-season change of regulation, a new civil employment law meant Roma could finally play Hidetoshi Nakata, Marcos Assuncao, Walter Samuel, Marcos Cafu and Gabriel Batistuta in the decisive fixture ending 2-2 towards the end of the campaign. Nakata scored the decisive equaliser and suddenly Capello no longer cared about bending the rules.

The law had been wiped out, but sanctions were taken against directors and players involved in the forging of documents. Players were banned for between six months and a year, directors were suspended and clubs given hefty fines. Just another Serie A scandal.

Have your say...
Wow, so much misinformation here.
4 what Juve did as part of Calciopoli the club should have folded as an organization and should have been made to start over from the bottom like other less powerful clubs were forced to in the past for far less serious conduct.
And the excuse the Juve fans have used "they weren't the only ones" is very embarrassing and sad.
Other clubs were also found guilty and sanctiond accordingly. What came after was a desperate attempt by Juve to accuse innocent clubs
on the 23rd September, 2020 at 2:56am
And yet Juve comeback to dominate the league again. Now with Pirlo in charge Juve will continue to dominate and inter, Lazio et al with have to come up with more inventive ways to stop them.
on the 22nd September, 2020 at 5:06pm
You guys need to accept that your club DID something wrong.
Maybe if you stop acting as victims it will change mentality of other fans. (It's hard listening to Big Bad Wolf whining for sympathy.)

Sour & hurt? Look at this whole article.
It undermines Roma's achievement. --3rd Scudetto compared to your almost 40th!!!
Can't you be happy for this "mediocre" club? Here it's implied you were victimized & deserved this title as well.

"Bartelt & Fabio J.?" --Why didn't Juve take them? Why Emerson...
on the 4th June, 2020 at 4:00pm
@ Giach,
Sour? Hurt?
And whose fault is that people lost trust in Serie A? That it's branded as mafioso league with cheating, match-fixing, etc...?
Why fans of other Italian clubs cheer for Roma, Atalanta, Fiore in CL... but NEVER for Juve?

When did I ever said that Roma wasn't mediocre (Compared to Juve, Bayern, Real, City...)?
Even in this blog I praise Juve for being the best team in Serie A --The only one that can have a "normal" shot at CL year-in-year-out, not a one season "lucky" run.
on the 4th June, 2020 at 3:23pm
@totti, you sound like sour loser. You try so hard to be rational and smart but yet you just another butthurt fan who can't accept AS Roma are mediocre and Juve are superior on pitch therefore you failed to accept that Juve were victim in Farsopoli scandal made by Moratti.
on the 4th June, 2020 at 4:46am
Nobody is losing any sleep if Juve went down without "proper" evidence. They were dirty 100%.

The only unfairness is they weren't alone.
That's why Moggi will swear innocence on his death bed --Others did it as well.

it's like reality show "Survivor":
You can plot a backstabbing tactic with your group to eliminate other contestants... unaware that within your group there are two who will BACKSTAB YOU & the rest!!! They are fooling EVERYONE --TRUE MASTERMINDS BEHIND IT!

...That was Juve.
on the 3rd June, 2020 at 11:01pm
Article 6 violations the attempt to gain an advantage in the standings through match-fixing or attempted match-fixing

In the now-discredited trial of 2006, Juventus were cleared of any Article 6 violations, and were only demoted due to a combination of Article 1 violations , misdemeanours that had never before resulted in anything more than fines or, at most, a minor points penalty.
on the 2nd June, 2020 at 11:00am
Juventus cheated. Own it & get over it.
Now they are the best club in Italy & one of top 7 IN THE WORLD. Enjoy it.

They still get every 50-50% game decision (just like other European GIANT clubs)
--But at least we have VAR!
Ater couple of outrageous calls, people will riot. Most importantly, offside goals can't be manipulated anymore (although they already want to "adjust" that rule)!

Now, teams can really have a go at Scudetto --It's not as impossible as it used to be. (Right, Lazio?)
on the 31st May, 2020 at 5:13pm
The fact that Inter wasn't accused/ convicted as well, surprised me the most in 2006!

Refs were either bribed or terrorized by these clubs. You could only win against these "bad boys" if you REALLY outclassed them (--like, Roma winning 4-1 against Inter in 2004, where Romans had THE FIRST THREE perfectly regular goals annulled by refs!!!)

...After Calciopoli, Inter still enjoyed favouritism from refs, especially in the two seasons when Roma pushed them for Scudetto.
on the 31st May, 2020 at 4:49pm
OH MY GOD!!!!!!
Where did you copy this article from --TUTTOSPORT?? Maybe even FI?

And what was said in that "one call" compared to calls from other clubs?
How many times Moggi MET refs/ other officials, & they spoke in person, without being recorded??
What was said on foreign SIMs???

Statue of limitation is reason why --MOGGI ISN'T IN PRISON!
on the 31st May, 2020 at 3:41pm
According to the findings of the FIGC’s chief investigator, it is Inter, Milan and Livorno who should have been relegated in 2006 and not Juventus.

But, due to the Statute of Limitations, there will be no further punishment. While Juventus will emerge as moral winners after a five-year struggle for justice
on the 29th May, 2020 at 12:24pm
The Italian press exploded this morning following yesterday’s revelations by the FIGC chief investigator Stefano Palazzi, who accused Inter of committing sporting fraud during the 2004-05 season. This had subsequently led to the Calciopoli scandal, which saw Juventus stripped of two Scudetti and relegated to Serie B, and Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina and Reggina issued point penalties for 2006-07.The FIGC handed Palazzi the responsibility of pouring over all the evidence from the Calciopoli II trial
on the 29th May, 2020 at 12:22pm
Former referee designator Paolo Bergamo alleges Inter made the most phonecalls during Calciopoli, but it was Juventus and Luciano Moggi who were punished on one call during the orginal sports trial in 2006.

Bergamo, who has been a witness in the current Calciopoli 2 trial at the Tribunal of Naples has revealed a number of calls went missing in 2006 something that has come to light in the current trial. Bergamo believes Juventus were wrongly punished in 2006 because crucial evidence was missing
on the 29th May, 2020 at 12:17pm
Usual haters lol nothing to see here. Moving along
on the 27th May, 2020 at 10:43pm
Undisputed evidence is very hard to get.
And even then, with powerful companies (like I've shown you), it doesn't even matter.

So it doesn't matter...
What matters is: YOU FELT IT. You knew deep inside.
SOMETHING WAS OFF. ROTTEN. UNFAIR. Like wife just "knows" husband is cheating on her or teacher "knows" student is cheating on test.
Juventus was corrupt.

When news broke out, no one was surprised. Not even Juventini.
(Try yourself on lie detector!)
on the 27th May, 2020 at 6:47pm
O.J. Simpson also wasn't convicted for murdering his wife, so what's your point?
You act like corts don't make mistakes? Aren't corrupt?? Like there aren't loopholes in law, smarter lawyers..?

Juventus are lucky they're BIG, INFLUENTAL TEAM... If minnow was found guilty, that club would be erased!

Look how Disney COPIED Tezuka's Kimba Jungle Emperor & marketed it as "ORIGINAL" Simba Lion King :)
Good luck suing them..!
Or watch movie Dark Waters, to see how we are all "equal".
on the 27th May, 2020 at 6:20pm
This article should be called: "I Hate Roma & Love Juventus". Everything is written to degrade Roma/ Capello & make Juve victims.

What is it with some Juventini always trying to justify going down to Serie B???
Even if next another team cheats & robs Juve, you should just STAY QUIET.
YOU ARE FOREVER STAINED & can no longer "throw a rock"!

Mr. Mork,
Next, write article how Capello, as Juve coach, dismissed Juventus being favoured by refs... only to regret it later.
(But I won't hold my breath.)
on the 27th May, 2020 at 5:27pm
when the rewards are so great for winning it is hardly surprising to see teams brake the rules. Even today clubs will buy a 16 year old player a house and apparently that is not a financial incentive.

A non eu rule is simply a scapegoat for the figc failures at the time italian football had 72% domestic players. I don't approve of the clubs breaking the rules but i can understand why they would go it. Especially when the point of the rule is to distract fans from the figc screw ups.
on the 27th May, 2020 at 4:44pm
Lighten up. These articles are just a bit of fun in these uncertain times. Will done FI.
on the 27th May, 2020 at 2:13pm
How strange that they changed the rules midseason. i can not hear juventinos complaining about the proposed changed allowing 5 subs when serie a returns. anonymus and pinturicchio are leaving in another dimension where rubentus is an honest and law abiding club. and where no other teams were punished. Hope you are serious , cos if it is a joke, it is really bad.
on the 27th May, 2020 at 1:45pm
Poor Juve, I'm crying a river here.
on the 27th May, 2020 at 12:08pm
Pinnoochio and Anon - Once again I reiterate - trying to make someone else out to also guilty does not you innocent. Juve guilty - it still and always will stand. How many appeals have been rejected now. By the way if you had read the article you would have seen that it was players (not clubs) that were punished about the passports. I understand that you are being home educated at present but do try to comprehend what is written.
on the 27th May, 2020 at 11:42am
There are hundreds of such things in Italy, and yet Juventus,

=> despite the "Kangaroo Court" of 2006 NOT being able to prove 1 single match-fixing, or pressuring/intimidating referees, or bribery et al charges

=> no proof of any wrongdoing (predicting the referee assignment beforehand - called the Cupola - is not illegal, it's just very good sense of probability)

=> being absolved of all charges by the Naples verdict (which found Inter culpable)

were the ONLY club punished.

on the 27th May, 2020 at 9:29am
It's funny really. Juve get demoted due to misdemeanors. Yet they changed the rules to accommodate for Lazio, Inter, and Roma to cheat.
on the 27th May, 2020 at 6:24am

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