The embarrassment of the Italian Sporting Justice System

Posted by Mina Rzouki

Italian football forever dwells in a state of compromise and the Italian Olympic Committee tribunal's decision to reduce Antonio Conte's ban to four months only further proves this point. However, whilst each party (the prosecution and defence) claims to have been the loser with regards to the final ruling, the real loser is the dire state of the country's sporting justice system.

No one has yet to agree on any point of view except for one: the decision to reduce Conte's ban is farcical. For those who do not support the Old Lady, then it's quite ridiculous how deep pockets and expensive lawyers can manage to get the Juve men out of any tricky situation. They feel that if the coach was found guilty then he should deal with the consequences and Conte was found guilty of failing to report a fix.

However, if you view it from black and white tinted glasses then the fact Conte was not offered the opportunity to properly defend himself and stands alone to face such consequences whilst those in charge of Albinoleffe have not been directly charged, just as he was, is just as ridiculous. Effectively the testamony of one man, Filippo Carobbio, was enough to condemn a coach and the Juventus team to a heinous ban.

The truth of the matter is, no one really knows if Conte did possess knowledge of a fix in the game between Albinoleffe vs. Siena or not. By pointing the finger, the accuser, Carobbio reaped the benefits that included a lighter punishment as he was cooperating with the authorities. As Cesare Prandelli, Italy's coach noted, by offering incentives to those who tattle, the sporting justice system is opening a dangerous box of unwelcome surprises in the future. "In a career spanning 20 years, any of us could be dragged into it, even if only by gossip and hearsay," explained Prandelli. Indeed. Whilst those who have the courage to speak against corruption must be applauded, incentives that allow the guilty to walk off with lighter punishments should not be offered.

It is a vicious circle in which there is no guilty or innocent party. Everyone has lost. Conte has lost, the fight against match fixing has lost and the sporting justice system has lost. The only winners are the tabloids that have sold millions of copies to those who have patiently followed the trial, appeals and everything in-between. Should we not wonder how so many of these newspapers knew of the verdicts before they were even announced? A sporting justice system susceptible to leaks says it all.

It is amazing how after the Calciopoli scandal of 2006, nothing has been done to better a tired and corrupt sporting justice system. Those accused are not offered a just opportunity to defend themselves whilst the rules are so vague that sentences are handed out in haphazard fashion with no set criteria or explanations. For a country that appears to experience a scandal on a yearly basis, it is astonishing how backwards the system is. Nothing has been modernised or made equal and no precedents have yet been set should such problems arise again in the future - and you know they will.

How can Serie A ever climb out of the rut it is currently stuck in and develop with the times if it is being held back by those who are meant to defend it?

For Juventus, they at least can rejoice in knowing that on the 9th of December, their beloved coach will be back on the sidelines screaming and ranting. If only he could be present in the Champions League group games, as they sorely felt his absence against Shakhtar Donetsk.

However, in Massimo Carrera they have managed to find a man so in tune with Conte's vision and on Sunday they will face another black and white club in Siena. Facing a Serse Cosmi team is never easy considering his penchant for causing an upset. It's even more difficult when the match happens in October since Cosmi seems to pick up more points on that month than any other.

This game will be about squad rotation for the Juve side that needs a rest. Nicklas Bendtner is likely to start in attack whilst either Luca Marrone or Lucio will take place of the suspended Leonardo Bonucci in defence. Wing-backs will be reshuffled and it could well be Paolo De Ceglie and Mauricio Isla who will be given the green light to start. One thing is for certain, Friday's farcical judgements will only serve to further unite a united squad.

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