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August 2021

Calciopoli in England: the evidence.

By Walter Broeckx

After the former articles about Calciopoli I want to use this one to give a kind of resumé about what cheating is happening or could be happening, taking Italy as the model.

As you will have seen the cheating was not that much that the ref appointers phoned a ref and told him: Team A must win this game. No it is all done in a much more subtle way. And in fact this is what I have heard and have been told by people who were there at the time.

Each country has its own football pyramid.  And we all want to be on top of that pyramid. As that is where the reward is the biggest. This is pure human nature one could say. And we all know that when people smell money they can become bad persons. It takes strong character and a strong person to refuse personal gain. And not all people can resist it. That is a fact. And I think this is a fact that we should accept but also fight against it.

We should accept that it exists and then we should fight it. We can’t change human nature. But we can change the conditions and make sure that the situation doesn’t arise. I know this is extremely difficult. But impossible is nothing. If we really want the football world to be fair we should look at all possibilities and try to exclude any bad goings on as much as possible.

Now if we look at the Calciopoli scandal we see that the system was in place well before it became visible. How long? Well we don’t know for sure as the people who did it were not really happy to say: oh, but we have been doing that for more than 10 years. No, they shut up about it and so it looks as if it just started in the 2003-2004 season.

What do you need to arrange such a Calciopoli event? First of all you need someone at a big club with a lot of influence in the football world. That person must have good friends in some high and strategically important places. Those places are not just his own club of course but also the FA of that country and most of all the person or people who appoint the refs. And then finally it helps when the media who have the rights to broadcast the league has to be on your side.

I think those are the 4 things you need to arrange a Calciopoli. In Italy Moggi was a big man in his club Juventus being the General Manager. And he had important friends in the Italian Football Federation. And most importantly he had good friends in the persons who appointed the refs in Italy. And then to round it up he also almost decided what they would show on TV and who would be the guest in the studio to talk about decisions.

So now the question we could ask ourselves is: could this situation exist in the PL? So we could ask ourselves : is there a club in the PL that would or could tick all those boxes? Well if there is one club that doesn’t fit the boxes it is Arsenal. That is one thing that is for sure.

Until this season we had nobody in high places at the FA for many many years. The man who appoints the refs is and I use this lightly not really known for his love for Arsenal. The media has specialised in ridiculing our manager and on the rare occasions we get a debatable decision our way the replays are highlighted and highlighted till even the blind man has seen them. So it is fair to say Arsenal tick not even one of the required boxes.

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Now if you would ask me if there could be a hypothetical “Juventus” club in the PL, I can only come up with one team. Their manager is powerful and has lots of influence. They have and had and will have important persons from the club in the FA. The person who appoints the refs is widely regarded as being very kind to them. And the leading media outlets are on their side.

Now I’m not saying that MU is arranging a Calciopoli-type event in the PL. But they are a team that ticks all the “Juventus boxes” one could say. They are the team that could arrange such a thing. I don’t say they do, as to know this I should be able to do phone taps and as I am not a member of the police or a judge, this is something that is beyond me.

So how can you find signals that point at a “Calciopoli” in a league?

First of all you know that the refs “follow the leading team”. It is rather natural and part of human nature that MU has lots of fans – and historically they have fans all over the country. And so statistically speaking it would be normal that most refs have some kind of supportive feelings for the leading club, and in the PL this is Manchester United. So from a certain point it could be even just natural that most refs could give a 50/50 call to Manchester United. By accident this seems to be the case.

What we also had in the Calciopoli case is that the person (in Italy it was 2 persons) who were responsible for appointing the refs were Juventus-friendly. The appointment of the refs is one of the most important matters. In England we only have one person to do this. And this person is considered by some as MU-friendly.

This person is also the person who can directly have an influence on the career of each ref. A referee who has made a mistake against a certain team and then isn’t appointed to such team for almost a year is something that might point at Calciopoli. I remember reading in one of the tapped conversations Moggi saying that they don’t want a certain ref again in the near future. Something we have heard and seen also in some cases in the PL. Even when the ref did nothing wrong in a game that ended bad for the “Juventus-team”.

So in England we have a person who appoints the refs who is considered by some to be MU-friendly. And he is the one who decides who referees which match.  So the refs might be subconsciously aware of that and so subconsciously they might give the benefit of the doubt to one club rather than another. And as they have seen that doing this can be beneficial for their career (the person who appoints their games would be living proof) so they could subconsciously try to copy that behaviour.

Now I know this is all hypothetical and I don’t say it is all happening that way but I just point at similarities in the situation of Juventus and the Calciopoli scandal in Italy and some things that look rather familiar with that situation in the PL.

For those saying: prove it. I can only say that to prove this you need unbiased judges who are not afraid to start and long investigation. Even in Italy the first investigation was stopped (because of the local club being part of it?) and it needed judges from the south to stop the cheating that was blatantly visible for most observers but was laughed away by the cheaters. But we now know who had the last laugh.

Of course all could be fine and well in the PL and the PGMOL. And maybe all that secrecy is just pure coincidence. But I see too many chances and too many similarities that could open the door to wrong doing. And admitting that there could be a chance of wrong doing is the first little step. Doing all they can, and doing it in the open, showing the public how they work, and giving further information to the supporters about the processes would help.  Making the reviews the ref gets from the match assessors would be a second little step.

The bottom line is that I cannot prove there is a calciopoli in the PL. But the similarity in the situation between Italy in those days and how the PL and the PGMOL is working is a striking one to me at least, if no one else.

I would love to be proven wrong. But that is up to the FA, the PL and the PGMOL to prove me wrong. And to be honest… I don’t see them do anything at all.

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39 comments to Calciopoli in England: the evidence.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    So what conditions would have to exist for a real investigation to take place?

    The Calciopoli investigation started as a doping investigation and grew and Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion. That is a possibility…luck.

    Actually, until someone with real influence, somewhere, gets their toes stepped on, it is unlikely that this will go anywhere. The series of articles following on all the referee work that you have done has so far achieved very little. Sadly. But, widening the scope and making it not an Arsenal thing was clever. If the conversation were widened further to involve the supporters trusts and groups of the smaller clubs perhaps the chirping of the lone crickets could swell into something that might be heard beyond the smelly confines of the dung heap in the backyard of the FA.

  • Shard

    Real Madrid’s goal shows the indirect effects of a wrong decision on a team. Dortmund felt (and so did I)that they should have had a penalty. This was not given,and within seconds, Real scored on a breakaway.

  • N Charge

    I have always thought a league should have the same number of refs as home games. Then each ref gets 1 game at each ground, and every season the poorest ref drops down a division to be replaced by the best ref in that division.

  • Shard

    N Charge

    You make too much sense for the authorities to ever listen to you

  • Sebastian

    Completely agree and I’ve been saying so for years. There is no smoke without fire. Look at the decision that go for United and go against City. And Previously went against Chelsea. And before that went against us. People seem to have forgotten that game when we lost our unbeaten run at Old Trafford. Watch it again and its actually laughable the decision that went in that game. For 10 years we have been asking why this hasn’t been investigated.

    Man Utd are the only team this season to not have a penalty go against them! Read that again, its incredible! It used to be a joke that if Arsenal played Man Utd and Mike Riley was in charge, that you could put your money on United getting a penalty and Arsenal would get a man sent off. It very nearly made me turn away from football, but then they would win.

    Another tangent, is if you look at some of the Man United teams that have won the title, they have been quite ordinary, this season included. If you look at the teams that beat United to the title, they had to be such incredible sides that the refs didn’t matter. The Arsenal side that was so good they swept all before them, a Chelsea team that cost £500m to put together, and a City team that cost £700m odd to put together.

    It does not add up, and I believe 100% that Man Utd get a big big advantage on the other sides in the league. They effectively get a 10 point head start. Some people will laugh it off, but then so did people in Italy before it was all uncovered. You really think England is the only place cheating doesn’t go on? Behave.

  • Stuart

    In reference to:-

    What do you need to arrange such a Calciopoli event? First of all you need someone at a big club with a lot of influence in the football world. That person must have good friends in some high and strategically important places. Those places are not just his own club of course but also the FA of that country and most of all the person or people who appoint the refs. And then finally it helps when the media who have the rights to broadcast the league has to be on your side.

    Interesting summary Walter and to think we haven’t won a trophy since David Dein left?!?!?

  • John

    The media have never been on our side. The level of hostility has varied from time to time, but they have never been sympathetic. In 1970-1 they were pro-Leeds and pro-Spurs. Bertie Mee’s side was always described as lacking “flair”. George Graham’s teams were described as “dour and defensive” and the media always preferred Liverpool and MU. Arsene has always been portayed as a figure to be mocked, when not being directly attacked. Arsenal teams have always “lacked backbone” or “leadership” etc and our players have been presented as fair game for all the “not that type of player” characters like Taylor and Shawcross. (except when our players’ misdemeanours are being magnified and the aggregate of red cards is trotted out). Instead of admiration for building a superb stadium, financed from our own resources and delivered on time, (contrast Wembley, Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham, Chelsea), we get criticism for investing in the future instead of spending on massive transfer fees. We are blamed because our wage bill is constrained, then because it is too high and so on….

    There cannot be a shred of evidence to suggest that we have ever had favoured status with the powerful governing and influencing bodies in football.

  • John

    PS I overlooked the 2 point deduction in 1990-1 (MU started the fight and had 1 point deducted)

  • DR

    I wouldn’t have given that penalty, far too little contact. I agree in principle though, it shows what a fine line it can be.

  • Mandy Dodd

    There is too much unexplained going on in this league to overlook the possibility of this happening here. The secrecy, the blatant bias, Rooney being let off for elbowing people, refs fergie has a go at not getting games involving Utd. I was told by an ex ref at a function that Riley is a Utd supporter, and that everyone in the ref world knew the obvious. It all fits. But there is a problem, whatever Utd, scudamore, the refs and uk media may or may not be up to, the problem goes right to the top. The game is run by people like blatter, and in the past, the likes of blazer and warren, although the FBI are on to the latter. The game is corrupt at the top , so it is bound to be as you go down the levels. The solution, sponsors desert FIFA, high level FIFA members with integrity should resign and expose this. Decapitate the corrupt regime running it and the game would soon clean up.

  • AL

    Interesting observation that, it takes a mammoth amount of money or outrageous talent to beat an ordinary united side to the title.

    Cheating is obviously going on in England, it will come out one day.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Wenger has made suggestions he is aware something is not right, but the one who really came out with it was rafa in his FACT press conference. Wonder if fergie has a sting in his tail for rafa, Utd still have to play Chelsea as well as us I believe. Have a feeling Chelsea will not be getting Atkinson for this game

  • Gord

    Champions League may give some additional insight. PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain) have been under observation for a long time. But recently, we had news that Real Madrid was getting illegal help. We have 2 semi-finals of Spain (poor economy) versus Germany (good economy). One games ends 4-0, the other ends 4-1. I can imagine that there is no Calciopoli here, but as UEFA as involved, who knows. But, if we assume no Calciopoli, maybe this year gives us an ability to guess how much swing in game results is possible just from how the unconscious bias of people changes from news in their life?

  • Mick

    On Talksport today they had Keith Hackett in the studio as a guest. He was Riley’s predecessor at the PGMOL and callers were invited to ask him questions so I took the opportunity to email in with 3 questions.
    1 Why no refs from the South of England
    2 Why such a low number of refs on the panel
    3 What was his opinion as to why Arsenal get Dean so often given his record with us.
    Needless to say my questions were ignored even though Hackett no longer has any connection with the PGMOL. They are a law unto themselves, to work for them you have to take a lifetime vow of silence. Why is it impossible to get answers to such simple questions?

  • rantetta

    Oh Walter, Walter.

    “So in England we have a person who appoints the refs who is considered by some to be MU-friendly”

    Nah, surely not:

  • BuffonNumeroUno

    Former Inter vice-president Guido Rossi was clearly an unbiased judge in Calciopoli. The fact Inter were the main beneficiaries of the scandal, and that a lot of evidence which would have dropped them deep in it went missing is merely coincidental.

    Again I will point out that the refereeing bosses were friendly with all clubs. Yes Moggi was very friendly with them, but Paolo Bergami stated shortly after the scandal that he spoke with the now sadly departed Inter president Facchetti more than anyone. Of course now the content of those calls is available the FIGC declared them sporting fraud, whereas the Juventus calls were judged to be the far less serious unsportsmanlike conduct. That was an offence more or less every team in Serie A was judged to be guilty of, although most went unpunished.

    Go to the below link, and see all the people in high places with links to other clubs, and then tell me about Moggi’s friends in high places.

    As for the rest, I’ve seen some bad refereeing performances in England, but I’d suggest at the most it’s a natural bias towards one club, such as Manchester United, and nothing suspicious. It’s difficult to suggest that Man Utd aren’t deserved champions this season as well. I don’t like them, but I can admit that.

    Until concrete evidence comes out (unlike Calciopoli), than I will find it hard to agree otherwise.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Mick, unfortunately, talkshite has an agenda with Arsenal for the most part, just mentioning them in such terms means it is very difficult to get heard on there, I know from experience. The pro Arsenal callers who do manage to get on usually end up ridiculed.

  • Pierre

    The comments on this quite frankly brilliant video are what is wrong with English football fans and allows cheating to take place.

  • Mark

    The new head of the Spanish league wants to clean things up! This is great. The FA needs to set up a system that does not allow cheating and closes every door possible for cheating or manipulation. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the primary interest of the leadership in FIFA, FA and UEFA.
    Suggestions for cleaning up the EPL:
    1. No team is allowed a sponsor connected to gambling, and gambling ads in stadiums are not allowed. Players or staff of teams are not to be involved in gambling of any kind.
    2. the league needs more refs, they need to be paid well. I think they need to be more active efforts to find younger refs and refs that have played football.
    3. the appointment of refs needs to be truly random.
    4. they ought to have two refs on the field and two linesman. The sport is very fast and one ref just can see enough of what is going on. It is harder to manipulate two refs than one. So the extra ref on the field protects the game from influence.
    5. They need to use technology to make sure that decisions are correct. Hawkeye to show if the ball goes into the goal and video reply regarding penalties. I think if refs know that a penalty call was going to have a video review they would call more knowing that if the video review showed they got it wrong their would be no penalty and the other team would get a goal kick.

  • Danish Gooner

    And someone wants to give this lot a Guard of Honour !!! I would throw piss at them.

  • Shard

    Pierre, Mandy Dodd

    I have no special feeling for Rafa Benitez or Liverpool, but I have so much respect for him for coming out with that. The Wigan game that he mentions with Steve Bennett. That was the game when I first realised that there was match fixing going on. We’d already lost the title due to referee ‘errors’ (as I thought at the time) and it was between Chelsea and ManU on the last day. I wanted ManU to win because I despised Chelsea. Which they did. But the way they won, with Steve Bennett aiding and abetting them, left a bad taste in my mouth. And I suppose a lot of people felt similarly and noticed because since then they’ve changed tack and fixed some matches right at the start of the season rather than right at the end when it generates more publicity.

    Of course coming out with those facts did lead the press to humiliate Rafa, and the referees took care of the rest. It is portrayed as the reason that Liverpool lost. Just like Gallas sitting on the pitch is portrayed as the reason we lost. Calciopoli? I have no doubt.

  • elkieno

    Danish Gooner; I like your idea heaps!

  • uk


  • lol

    All what you said about Juventus here is trash…. You just don’t know it. You sit in England and you judge an innocent club like others have done. Well, its not your fault, you where miss-informed,and that’s your problem. you need to know the truth about calciopoli before you write about it on your blog. And speaking of which, get better players and you will be proud like MANU fans. #no offence

  • Mandy Dodd

    As many on here have said, this ultimately all seems to lead to one club, or maybe one man. Shame some of our fans have now positioned themselves so far in the unreachable depths of fergies innards, they cannot see anything. These fans were the same with arry about 14 months ago. Getting a bit strange, some of our fans.

  • WalterBroeckx

    To those Juventus supporters :

    I know that calciopoli was not just about Juventus. But they are the “perfect” example to show some similarities between Italy and the PL.

    And yes in Italy there were other clubs trying to use the system. And maybe there are other clubs who try to follow the leader and so try to benefit from some ref appointments also? Who knows. Who are the ones who just silently sigh when their team gets screwed at OT or against MU? Don’t make the godfather angry you know. It might bite you back one day.

  • Man Overboard

    You really believe this????

  • WalterBroeckx

    No, I really believe that there never has been, never is and never will be corruption in English football. That is what I really believe down deep inside….

  • bob

    Man Overboard! Man Overboard!
    Please clarify: Has the Titanic hit an iceberg? Is Fungusson tossing you a life preserver?

  • bob

    what’s the truth you invoke but don’t take the time to share?

  • bob

    most impressive: you’re all the way up to one whole syllable to say everything on your content-free mind. Kudooooooozzzzzzzzzeeee!

  • bob

    good to see you’re still keeper of the vault! the secret of the hives of riley.
    will you be applaudin’ our betters (bettors) on the weekend? cheers 🙂

  • Gooner Forever

    Did I hear correctly when the commentator on Monday said that Man U have not conceded a penalty this season ?

  • Mandy Dodd

    You did Gooner F, and if I am not mistaken,they have not had a red card in the league this season either, tho Nani got one in the CL with a foreign ref. Either they are squeaky clean…Rooney???? or there is something else going on

  • Lets call a butt a butt and not beating around the bush, on Fergus’s 20trophie cheat haul Manure has only 10 the rest where bought. Anybody remembers giafranco’s Zola in swinger in the 90s when a certain prick blew the whistle after the goal entered and he said that he had already blew for the end before the ball crossed the line, what about carols howler enough is enough. The most given penalties in a season for manure,no penalties against them even a red card???What about the ass’s dance when the little tots scored us? Guys are some of you insane could we compare and contrast the incidences that bring penalties if are taken into action when the devils are playing, what about free kicks? The Emperor is naked and we need to tell the world that the emperors butt is out.
    but wait a minute they are the devils and surely what do you expect from a devils mmmmmmmmmmind?

  • @babakrdaemi

    Top man walter. Thanks for all the hard work. I would really like to help make rbis public. I believe it can be done. From thanks to social media and Internet sites

  • Gord


    Only has 17 teams mentioned, and 2 or 3 of those teams that are mentioned, have different href’ing than the others. Of the ones that are consistent on the HREF, some have inconsistent capitalization.

    And all of this might be irrelevant comments.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Will check it Gord.

    I think we are missing Arsenal, MU and Norwich