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...
It's interesting to read the different sides of the argument here. On one hand you have readers who can separate the current team of Conte from the facts that are available, and on the other you have the ones who want to confound this to a Juve issue and go sling with the guilty assumption despite current evidence that completely contradicts this assumption. It's clear that the latter group suffer from Juve hate and envy. Very sad to see the support for a defunct system due to that hatred.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 12:32pm
@chris

ACM remains the top team in Italy. Don´t get diluted cause one of scudetto win in what, 10 years?

Dont´t know enough to argue about contes innocent or not. However it sure stinks..
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 12:08pm
Amedeo is obviously INTERISTA.

Inter are just as guilty if not WORSE.

Clean up your own house before you look elsewhere.

Juve have now done so. Time for Moratti to come clean.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 12:03pm
An excellent piece or work Suzy!
Beautifully described the poor and inadequate justice system.
I understand Conte's predicament to accept a small charge inorder to get it over and done with, but now he had decided to stand trial, I am even happier if not jubilant. Finally someone is going to stand against the so called "hear-say" whispers and albeit could face a very long and unjust period going through the process, he will finally come out with his head held high and integrity intacked!
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 12:00pm
I don't really pay that much attention on this but instead of only talking about non perfect judicial system, there's a bigger fish to fry here. This calciomesse scandal thing is for real, whether you like it or not. The Italian justice system should simply put an end to it and somehow from you're article you sort of take more stand in waving away the scandalous things in Italy.
I know that this kind of things doesn't only happen in Italy but it's actually better if they do managed to handle it
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 11:52am
This article is pretty disgraceful journalism.

Anyone who believes Italy doesn't have a SERIOUS problem with corruption, is living in a fantasy world. What I find absurd about this article is, apparently, the problem is not corruption, but that Italy's justice system is... too strict?? lolol

If Conte's innocent, then why not go on trial and prove it?

Susy Campanale should actually read things, like Franklin Foer's book.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 11:44am
Without going off subject and refering to that silly blog by Dave Taylor, this is why Juventus still claim 30 titles because 2 were stripped wrongfully (one of which granted to Inter that done worse "cheating" and is deemed acceptable?)

The fact one man is facing big punishment because one person pointed the finger against what 23 other people said (Suzy detailed this well) just reinforces the fact of how AWFUL the FIGC are

There is no conspiracy against Juve, just poor JUSTICE...
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 11:34am
Ha! Susy wrote this?!
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 11:24am
It is that simple >>>

M. Moratti's hand is so looooong it still reaches for even the minor opportunity to get his stinking club out of the mud.

Don't be shocked if you see many of former FICG and Court related people and workers gone working for him, in one of his companies.

I just hope if not FICG nor the Court then God or fate punishes him for ALL these crimes and manipulations he has masterminded in order to give his Inter a chance to actually win something.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 11:20am
What a shame it is when journalists casts shadows of doubt over a judicial system because they don't like the outcome.
Juventus were guilty of sporting fraud. as was moggi. It appears conte turned a blind eye to max fixing and is prepared to admit it. Lets not now blame "Italy's judicial system" on the fact he offered a plea bargain.
It's true when conte said juve is in his DNA. He's a cheat.
Stop defending cheats!!!!!!!!
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 10:56am
I just wan to contribute to what happen cos i realize that juve need to be calm cos u can jus put the trigger on FIGC and let them evaluate the situation cos is i see juve president speech it look like he as already accept the 15 month ban giving to conte but FIGC av not imposed any ban to him instead to started criticized them for evaluate the matter.I wish if FIGC are meaningless why do Italian football federation accept them cos they believe in sport justice were as some team surfer to play.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 10:50am
Reading the comments on this blog it's obvious that the Juventus fans are just desperately trying to turn this into another "oh, Juventus are so hard done to! What did we ever do to anyone" campaign.

Truth is, cheating in all forms is endemic at Juventus. Think back to every scandal that has come about in Italy an you'll see Juventus. The team and most people involve with them consistently get in to trouble.

And you can thank Silvio for the justice system!
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 10:43am
To have the FIGC single you out once (Juve relegated, Inter - equally guilty according to the wire-taps - given the vacant titles) may be seen as unfortunate.

To have the FIGC single you out twice (coach facing a 15 month ban on the evidence of 1 man against 23 others, while Siena are given a fine and a six point deduction) looks increasingly like persecution.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 10:01am
Why didn’t Conte inform the authorities then? I would have been so much easier to report it and move on, or does he have something to hide? Why else would he not say anything. He saw the outcome of Calciopoli, so he could have been a good role model and report a potential criminal offence in the making.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 9:37am
CARBADGE PATCH KIDS has hit the nail on the head
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 9:14am
First as a attorney I completely agree with Conte lawyers that the judges who rejected the plea bargain should not lead the case.They prejudicated the guiltines of Conte.
And also as a attorney,when you have a agreement with the person who is accusing you(prosecutor) that is it.End of story.But not in Italy.
And in every legal system in the world there is a presumption of innocence until proven contrary.Here we have presumption of guiltines.
What a clown sport system
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 9:02am
@n: yes that was Sensi, he did it openly and not secretly so what is your point?

Fact is that Roma is the only club in the top 6 not being linked with any wrongdoings this century, and yes we are damn proud of that.

juve goes way back, watch a certain juve-rom from season 80/81 maybe, coincidence? No, not if you see these kind of things over and over again through history. it all started in the 80s already and as i said before: a fox doesnt change its tricks, i am sure a zebra neither.....
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 8:17am
As a Scottish Criminal defence lawyer practicing in a system based on Roman law I find the absurdities of this case and more importantly this "so called"system of sporting justice ludicrous.What happened to the presumtion of"innocence"?Where is the independent corroboration of the allegation? It seems like a defective system that chooses the discredited words of an admitted cheat over Conte and the other 23 Siena players.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 8:10am
Somebody gimme break! And that includes Susy. A blog like that looks more like redemption or one trying to buy popularity and trust me you know just how,where and when to get it. You attempting to try the case before before we get a proper hearing is cheap journalism. I almost fell into the trap of "one criminal's word against the others" but when I read that other revelations came up about Conte's time in Bari and not only in Siena, I'm beginning to want to hear it all . Lets trust the syste.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 7:55am
The FIGC disgust me. They are damaging Serie A.
It was reported that RVP is monitoring the situation and the deal hinges on Conte's innocence.

A chance for Serie A to welcome one of the world's best strikers and it is blocked by one insignificant man's word against 24 others. Thank you so much FIGC.

Juve cannot and will not let this take place, it will open the floodgates. The FIGC needs to be under investigation by FIFA, start the dawn raids on them.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 7:47am
Great article - Spot on!! This corruption and discrimination in the FIGC makes me sick. Just a bunch of idiots trying to make a name for themselves in the media while destroying innocent managers, players, fans and clubs. At a time like this I am ashamed to be Italian.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 7:40am
It is the rule of natural justice that both incriminating as well as exculpating evidence be considered for justice to be done and to be seen to be done. Failure to that FIGC will never erase the percetion of targetting certian teams.
However JUVE has risen from deeper crisis before and JUVE WIIL STILL RISE.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 7:20am
Thank you Susy, fantastic article. As my Italian friends say - the justice system here in Italy is great if you are guilty, caught and brought to court - just admit guilt and they take it easy on you - but god help you if you are innocent and you stand accused of something and try to fight the charges. Just look at Captain Schettino - he's back out on the streets again already.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 6:46am
@ Arjen... How unbelievable ridiculous. This is not about Juve, didn't happen during a Juve game. Only a hater could try and make that connection. Try reading the facts before making unsubstantiated claims. This is about a broken judiciary system.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 6:31am
Well written, clear and on target. I'm not a Juve supporter either but tired of these scandals bringing disrepute to all Italian football, especially when match fixing scandals in other leagues go uninvestigated and swept under the carpet!
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 6:24am
@Arjen, I'm sure there are many Roma fans who are not as lazy as you, at least read the article first.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 4:32am
Witch hunt baby... this is nothing but witch hunting. The sad part of it is that, it is happening in the 21st century.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 4:23am
Thnks for the article. I think that FIGC is ANTI JUVE! They are Federazione Interista Giocco Corroto! Not italian
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 3:46am
@N- franco sensi- may he rest in peace, should not be brought up into this discussion especially bc he is no longer with us. he bought watches for the refs, if the refs did not want the watches then they should have graciously declined the gift. Don't blame la bonane of franco sensi.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 3:20am
Great article. FIGC protect or do not reach the true mafia in this game. And maybe they ride this flawed law under order of the mafia..
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 3:17am

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