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41 clubs visited by police on suspicion of tax dodging and money laundering

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…

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  • AC Milan,
  • Atalanta,
  • Catania.
  • Chievo,
  • Fiorentina,
  • Genoa,
  • Inter Milan,
  • Juventus,
  • Lazio,
  • Napoli,
  • Palermo
  • Parma,
  • Parma,
  • Pescara,
  • Roma,
  • Sampdoria,
  • Siena,
  • Torino,
  • Udinese

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

13 comments to 41 clubs visited by police on suspicion of tax dodging and money laundering

  • FunGunner

    Tony, I think the police have required the production of certain documents from the clubs, but it is the agents – not the clubs – which are being investigated. I think you should make this clear. At least they are investigating and not brushing it under the carpet.

  • don

    We’ve seen it all before. In Italy they would sell their grandmothers to a white slavery outfit in order not to go down. Money laundering? I think that’s the least of it. Talking of ‘Fair Play’ – I watched the match between the English U20’s against those of Iraq. Blatter and Platini want to show their big hearts and put on a team of referee and linesmen totally biased in favour of the Iraqi youngsters. Handball, walking right across the legs of a fallen player, shirt pulling, leg kicking, and not one foul whistled by the ref. The moment the English MEN touche an Iraqi player, it was a yellow card and free kicks galore. I say MEN, because not once did they retaliate. Fair Play goes both ways and the English players did well to get a draw.

  • forengaxx

    I think if the EPL is truly investigated, we’ll be shocked by the level of gross malpractices going on in the game!

  • Jon

    The charges include “conspiracy and money laundering, as well as international tax evasion and false invoicing” and “clubs have evaded tax payments by listing bogus costs connected to non-existent players’ contract negotiations.
    Corriere Della Serra (Italian paper) has also listed 50 players involved in the investigation.
    This looks to be about more than just the agents…

  • Adam

    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/25859

    Just to add even more links, this one about “non existent players” I.E the “ghost transfer” and FIFA’s monitoring system, of something that some people didn’t think existed.

    Corruption, trafficking, betting scams and much more go on in football but some people won’t except this has, or still is going on.

  • Stuart

    Careful Tony or you might be accused of arrogance and thinking that the arrests were down to an article you published on Untold. 😉

  • Marc

    Tony – I know it’s off topic but it is something that comes up from time to time. Tonight I got my first season ticket. For reference I joined the waiting list on 29th October 2007 at place 42329. So either the club have been trying to avoid letting me in (a possibility if they had got to know me!) or our waiting list has not collapsed as claimed by many.

  • Stuart

    Hi Marc,
    I believe the season ticket matter is explained by the fact there are several lists within the list ie : Club Level, OAP, Child, Regular, Corporate. Each of these lists are likely to run down at different rates depending on how often people choose to stop renewing their season ticket and what type of season ticket they had.

  • Ugandan Goon

    Hey Tony,
    What have you got against Parma? They get a double mention in your rogues gallery.

  • Stuart

    Ugandan Goon,
    He is biased against Parma

  • bjtgooner

    @Stuart

    I have only just read your 7.23pm post – very funny after yesterday!

    Tony (the non arrogant), good article and the beginning of what promises to be a fascinating revelation.

  • Unbelievable belief

    Antonnini,
    The Italian police must be Paranoid,
    Don’t they know English so called arsenal posters have proved to them there is no conspiracy.
    The arrogant Italian cops, what do they know? There is nothing dodgy going on, it’s all in thir minds.

  • robdogooner

    FIFA is the most corrupt organisation on the plannet, and corruption at the highest level usually leads to corruption throughout the system.
    (Foul!: The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals by Andrew Jennings. Anyone that hasn’t read this book needs to go a get it!!!)
    There is little doubt in my mind that there is something going on “behind the scenes” in English Football.
    The problem is that ‘the system’ is designed, run and monitored by the same people that abuse it. Because they have designed the system they are able to manipulate it so as to keep the general public in the dark as to what actually is going on.
    It is only through revolutionary books like Foul! (FIFA tried to have it banned), and websites like Untold (are there any?) that people can become informed and start questioning what is going on.
    Call me a conspiracy theorist or whatever you like, but personally i like to judge things based on evidence, and the harder you look the more evidence there seems to be.
    All i can say is keep up the great work and time will tell.