By Richard Kharman.
When news broke from a New York Times article that Juventus were among a number of Italian clubs being investigated, it sent shock waves through the calcio community with a collective: “I knew it!”
No, it wasn’t about paying off the referees and getting make-up penalty calls late in matches to miraculously tie or win… This was about transfer fees and the possible illegality behind them.
This time, however, not just Juventus, but many other teams across Europe. We will focus on the Serie A clubs though.
One of the most recent deals will be thrown out in a swap between Barcelona and Juventus exchanging Miralem Pjanic for Arthur Melo.
Not about the players being swapped, but the fact both teams made money off the deal. €45m for Juventus and €50m for Barcelona. What?!?
Juventini will push back, questioning funding for Victor Osimhen getting signed from Lille by Napoli for €80m.
Both groups would be correct.
The Federal Prosecutor has opened an investigation into 62 suspicious transfers in #SerieA, studying the exchange deals and capital gains due to possibly inflated valuations.https://t.co/Mmh6cfKFZK#SerieA #Juventus #Napoli #SerieATIM #FIGC #Calcio
— footballitalia (@footballitalia) October 27, 2021
These weren’t the transactions that opened the inquiry, but a deal involving the aforementioned Lille and a former Serie A player, Orestis Karnezis.
The player is widely known in Serie A and the fact that he, along with three players you never heard of, amounted to €20m-plus, was eye-opening.
Something had to be up. But Serie A fans have raised their eyebrows before at vast amounts for unworthy players.
Most would point to recent dealings by Juventus. Look no further than 2019 when Stefano Sturaro was sold to Genoa from Juventus for €16.5m. A player valued at maybe €5m.
Juventus aren’t alone as Napoli, Chievo Verona and likely many other Italian clubs are involved. Paolo Boccardelli, the head of the Italian soccer federation’s supervisory body, began investigating these deals and has flagged 62 transfers across two seasons, including Napoli’s acquisition of Osimhen.
For a country that is trying to clean itself from the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal in 2006, this is a damning allegation that could have serious implications across the Italian peninsula and across Europe.
Juventus face one of the more serious consequences if convicted, since they are a publicly-traded company. Not ideal for a team that was at the centre of the Calciopoli debacle.
Money has long been a problem in football but these have only been exacerbated across the game over the last decade.
Add to that Financial Fair Play (FFP) — something must be done as teams turn to trickery and misdirection in their balance sheets in order to comply with regulations.
Juventus and many other teams have often inflated prices on outgoing players, but until someone steps in and puts an end to this, when will the madness stop?
Last week Newcastle United Director Amanda Staveley said Serie A was a mess financially. After the New York Times article, perhaps she was right all along.
Richard Kharman is co-host of the Serie A Sitdown Italian football podcast, part of the WFi network.