Truths and Lies: Juventus' Legacy of Corruption

Rival fans delighted in watching the soulless Agnelli and the entire Juventus board resign on Monday. Juventus are one of the most hated clubs in Italy, rivaled only by Inter, who would probably be hated more if they were actually relevant or won trophies of their own accord. Juventus also have a long track record of accusations of scandal, from doping to matchfixing to illicit transfer activities to ties to organized crime and more. While they have largely been proven innocent or escaped punishment, rival fans know that when there is smoke, there is always fire. Somewhere between the jealousy, hatred, and defamation from rivals there are both truths and lies about what Juventus has actually done. And the truths are why Juventus can never escape their legacy of corruption.

Corrupting Serie A since 1897?

Juventus fans either love or hate Andrea Agnelli. The ones who love him do so because he rode the tide of the return to success by taking the reins of the club around the same time as their new stadium was completed. His (now more questionable than ever) financial decisions helped push the club over that last ridge after returning from relegation to return to winning ways. At his peak, he owned a €294 million team, and yet he was unable to buy a Champions League trophy. But his "legacy" does include nine successive Scudetti, which coincide with serious issues at rival clubs like Milan, of course. For these vapid fans who love him, winning is the only thing.

Many Milan fans believe Agnelli wasn't the start of their success, this moment was

The Juventus fans who hate him most are ironically the most criminal, Juventus' Ultras. Their lovers' quarrel with him is based on many things, but the biggest issue was the drawn out cases that saw Agnelli and the club eventually fined (and even the president himself briefly banned) for illicit ticketing practices for many years involving the Ultras and reported members of the notorious Ndrangheta mafia. After getting caught, Agnelli cracked down on the Ultras, claiming he was blackmailed, turning them into authorities, and banning them from their own stadium. There was no love lost, with them displaying banners wishing him death at an away match last season and now celebrating his resignation

No love lost between Agnelli and Juve's Ultras

Rival fans hate Agnelli for all the reasons. He and the club emphatically backed Cristiano Ronaldo when credible rape charges were brought against him, and protected him from facing those charges by shielding him from being served the necessary paperwork for an international case. It wasn't enough that in the mafia ticketing scandal, Agnelli only served a couple of months of his ban and then the club simply paid a higher fine. There was also the infamous failed Suarez transfer where Juventus helped him cheat on his Italian test when they were trying to sign him. (The club was never penalized for this.) In the capital gains case (also known as the Plusvalenze case) that affected many clubs, Agnelli's lawyers walked in and got all 11 teams and 59 directors cleared on a technicality in April (including himself, of course, who was potentially facing another year long ban.) 

Greedy and power-hungry, yes, but not a genius

Then there was the Super League, which he was one of the engineers of, and has been a bad idea from day one. He literally turned on one of his best friends and the godfather of his daughter, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, lying to him and stabbing him in the back in the course of less than 24 hours when it was announced. And Agnelli has stuck with it relentlessly, resigning from his position as chairman of the European Club Association (ECA) and continuing the legal battle with UEFA. He even hinted at continuing his battle for "better football" in his Juventus resignation letter. Agnelli's complete lack of moral character was perfect to represent Juve's legacy of corruption. 

A mural depicting Agnelli killing football after he announced the Super League

In true Juventus spirit, Agnelli only knows how to look after his own interests. For example, his cousin, John Elkann, who runs Juve's parent company, said that the resignation of Agnelli and the board was "an act of responsibility," but other reports state that he and the board stepped down to avoid their own arrestsAgnelli was so self-absorbed and power-hungry that he got in too deep and built Juve bigger than he could manage, creating an unsustainable model. That is obviously one of the reasons why he has been so unscrupulously committed to the Super League, and is the most likely reason for all of the shady bookkeeping. 

People also associate Juventus with Luciano Moggi, who received a lifetime ban from football in the Calciopoli scandal, but at least he was driven by passion for the game, and actually knew football. Speaking of Calciopoli, many are quick to equate this scandal to that infamous one, which most people still consider Juventus as the most guilty of, since they were the most punished. But they are wrong on both counts. Juventus fans have tried to explain the shocking witch trial that Inter orchestrated in 2006. 

Synonymous with Juve and corruption, but at least he was driven by his passion for football

There was an acrimony that had been building up between the two clubs for years, and Inter cried about everything, creating a false narrative about Juve and their influence over referees. In fact, Inter were proven to have tried to influence the referees the most in Calciopoli. The tapes proving this conveniently appeared just after the statute of limitations was up. This is why I hate Inter so much, so much more than just a crosstown rivalry. What Milan fans do not realize is that not only were Inter the most guilty in Calciopoli, but Milan were actually more guilty than Juventus, even if our Prime Minister/Club President was able to get all of our punishments reduced. But those truths get lost because of Juventus' legacy of corruption.

This scandal is different. A total of 16 of Juve's current and former directors under criminal investigation for false accounting and false communication to the market for the seasons from 2019-2021. One part of that investigation involves the capital gains/plusvalenze issues, where player valuations were inflated to balance the books. The sporting investigation ended in April  when Agnelli and his lawyers avoided punishment on a technicality, but there is still a criminal investigation into all of this that is ongoing.

The player believed to be the beginning of the end for Agnelli

The second part of the investigation involves hiding player payments during COVID-19, when the club publicly reported that players were forfeiting four months' wages. The club actually paid the players all but one month of those wages. Newer reports reveal that upon further investigation, the balance sheets reveal a third element, which is the revelation of €34 million in undisclosed debts, likely related to transfers as well.

These crimes are made more serious because Juventus is the only Serie A club that is publicly traded on the stock market, making financial disclosures more significantly criminal, as they affect the shareholders and the market. For example, publicly, Juventus' shares are down 35% over the past year, but their true value could be even less based on the inconsistencies found within their balance sheets. However, should the capital gains issue be re-opened, it is not impossible that the other clubs and directors originally charged would also be subject to scrutiny once more.

Always looking out for number one 

Not surprisingly, Inter were the only club investigated for capital gains issues and not charged. If Juventus have a legacy of corruption, Inter are so much worse, and have never been punished. Inter are also hated by rival fans, but since they do not win on their own merit, fewer fans pay attention to them or care about the fact that they did not receive a single red card all last season, for example. But since Juventus have won the most Serie A titles, they also attract the most hate from rival fans. Well, that and their obvious legacy of corruption.

Boniperti's infamous quote has driven the team to corruption

Juventus' creed of "Winning is not important, it is the only thing that counts" is at the heart of their ruthless criminal legacy. Rival fans often hate them based on superstition, misinformation, and their excessive successes. However it is also impossible to believe that Agnelli or Juve are completely innocent of so many different forms of criminal activity. It speaks volumes about their club that while everyone was literally dying around them at the beginning of COVID-19, they were reportedly making the rich even richer, hiding the fact that they were actually paying their salaries when they were not supposed to and lying to their shareholders. 

Will these guys do jail time? Will their actions actually bring punishment to Juve?

What happens next is impossible to know. Strike that, most likely, based on history, neither Juventus nor its directors will actually be punished. Or, if Inter is behind this investigation, too (seeing as how their capital gains investigation ended with zero charges,) then Juve will be punished far more harshly than even they deserve. But I have no pity. Even maintaining the idea that you are innocent before proven guilty, those who swim in the wrong circles are rarely able to remain innocent. Between all of the truths and lies, Juventus simply has a very long legacy of corruption. 

This post inspired by the music of NIN's "Head Like a Hole"

Truths and Lies: Juventus' Legacy of Corruption Truths and Lies: Juventus' Legacy of Corruption Reviewed by Elaine on 9:15 AM Rating: 5
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