By Tony Attwood
Football clubs used as a basis for money laundering, tax fraud and the like? Now where have I heard that before?
Oh yes, I know. On Untold Arsenal. We did a series on money laundering in football (in fact I’ve reprinted the links to some of the articles below). No one took us very seriously though. All a bit conspiracy theory, as quite a few correspondents said at the time.
But, oooops. Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Lazio are just four of 41 clubs raided by the finance police today. On suspicion of avoiding tax and money laundering. Was Untold actually right? There’s a thing.
18 Serie A clubs, 11 Serie B clubs and 12 lower league clubs are now being investigated. And all this is before the finance police reveal the results of another set of investigations into our old friend, “unusual betting patterns.”
Magistrates based in Naples suggest that the way it works is primarily through the listing of non-existent costs surrounding either non-existent players or players who have moved on.
La Stampa reports today that the police were particularly interested in getting players’ contracts. Which raises the sort of scam that we heard about in the Rangers case as a possibility – having situations in which at least two different versions of a contract exist. One for the player and one for the tax man. (Although the allegation in the Rangers case was one for the club and one for the SPL).
And for readers who objected in the past to Untold’s unhealthy interest in conspiracy theories, it is interesting to know that the warrants the magistrates gave to the police really do include conspiracy and money laundering charges.
Also interesting is that there are suggestions not just of tax evasion and false accounting, but also tax evasion on an international scale. Meaning transfers of players involving Italian clubs and clubs in other countries.
The top clubs raided today are, in alphabetical order, so as to avoid accusations that I am biased…
- AC Milan,
- Inter Milan,
And that’s not all of it. The authorities are also looking at agents too, such as Alessandro Moggi (son of the former director of Juventus) and Alejandro Mazzoni, both of whom have already been the subject of search warrants in the past few months.
We have been considering the notion that the EPL is fixed for some time, gradually edging towards the view that something akin to the actions of Luciano Moggi (the Juventus manager) and others in Italy is now pretty much a worldwide phenomena.
In the big Italian scandal Moggi et al had conversations with several officials of Italian football to influence which referee got which game. The system (“Calciopoli” as it was called – Bribesville as it is translated in some quarters) did not mean that matches were fixed to produce a set score, (which is what is investigated under the “betting pattern” enquiries), but rather that favours were given by a variety of clubs to certain refs over time, and these refs edged games in favour of the clubs using the system. Juve, Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, Reggina were all ultimately found guilty.
The investigations in Italy revealed that not only were the clubs and referees involved, but so were the TV stations, where people were bribed not to show certain strange referee decisions in replays etc.
I mention this final point now because I am currently involved with two colleagues in writing “Arsenal in the 70s”, a book which includes reviews of every single first team match played from the summer of 1970 through to the summer of 1980. And here’s the strangest thing.
On 2 December 1978, Arsenal played Liverpool and after the game, Liverpool manager Paisley launched a tirade against the ref for booking Souness. From an Arsenal point of view the issue was why did the referee not send off Souness for starting a fight? The suggestion was made by Arsenal fans with an interest in such matters that the Liverpool manager was making his accusations to take away any investigation into the fact that the ref had actually got the decision completely wrong.
And there it would have stayed had not a few journalists, the following day, asked why TV coverage had edited out a number of the more energetic, one might say “industrial” tackles from Liverpool. Including the Souness incident.
The questioning in the press after that match was something of a breakthrough – but sadly it was immediately nipped in the bud. There may have been other occasions where questions were asked about TV coverage – and there certainly have been in recent years, but that one incident seems to have been all that was questioned at the time, as far as I can tell. Perhaps TV was totally fair in its coverage from there. Or perhaps someone persuaded the journalists not to ask any more questions.
Here are links to just a few of the money laundering pieces we did last time around.
Money Laundering and Football – an Untold investigation
- When a club is bought, spends big and collapses. How money laundering in football works
- Money laundering is not complicated, you just need a cash generating business and football is a cash generating business.
- Money Laundering and football. Are the crooks really running the show? And what exactly are the media playing at?
- Money Laundering, Premier League Football, Operation Apprentice, Portsmouth
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: the club that gets cards at over twice the rate of Arsenal
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying