When I first read the original Serie A match-fixing verdict, it read like a political decision – this was a case where making a public example of justice being handed out was more important than anything else.
Juventus were hit with a ridiculous 30 point ban, and with players dropping like flies (they lost 4 of their first team players – Cannavaro, Thuram, Emerson, Zambrotta – 3 defenders and a midfielder) before the appeals had been heard, and more were to follow (Ibrahimovic and Vieira are the next two tipped to leave).
Relegation is a fair punishment, but forcing them to stay in the nether regions for more than 2 years (a 30 point deduction would have made it impossible for Juventus to return the next year, and probably would have seen them sent to Serie C) is cruel.
Punishing the club does not take away corruption – we can only eliminate it by preventing it from happening in the first place.
The revised punishments, released after hearing appeals from all four clubs, have meant that the public farce is now over and Juve are consigned to play in the Serie B for two seasons (with a 17 point penalty, it would be asking a lot to expect them back in Serie A in 2007/2008) while Lazio, Fiorentina and AC Milan are back in Serie A and Champions League respectively.
You can read about the cribbing by Lazio and Fiorentina here, but what was really funny to see was Milan’s sharp outburst and a declaration of war against the current Real Madrid management for trying to ‘tap up’ Kaka. Apparently Milan were genuinely afraid of losing Kaka after they were banned from playing in the Champions League, but with that option available to them and an outside chance of winning the next season’s title (beat everyone else by more than 8 points? it has happened before), they can now play hardball. Cute, but nothing more than posturing.
Juve, Lazio and Fiorentina will continue fighting for the perceived ‘injustice’, but I fail to see why the recordings (and their transcripts) have not been made public. If you want to eliminate corruption, you have to promote transparency. Put them out in the hands of the public and instead of just punishing the clubs and hoping that the problem goes away, try to make the system as open as possible so that corruption is prevented in the first place.