Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Something that's Been Bothering Me

In the lead-up to and aftermath of the Champions League Final, one characterization that's been bothering me is the sour grapes approach of dubbing Milan as cheaters. In terms of sour grapes, dubbing Milan as "cheaters" isn't quite as bad as an "I'm not sayin' there was a conspiracy, but..." post, but it still annoys me. In any event, because there has been a tendency to lump Milan's relatively minor sins in the Calciopoly scandal with Juventus's mind-blowing corruption, here is a little sanity from James Richardson of the Guardian:

Milan (-8), meanwhile, finished up in the top four and winners of the biggest trophy in club football. And here, permit me a quick word on the Rossoneri. Much has been said in recent weeks about the appropriateness or otherwise of having admitted them to the Champions League this season. After all, according to various commentators, they had been found guilty of match fixing in the Italian courts.

This is substantially incorrect. Milan were found guilty of unsporting behaviour, not match fixing, and not by the courts but by a "sports tribunal", a body that was (a) in an incredible hurry to reach a verdict and (b) able and willing to accept supposition in place of evidence. Put simply, the tribunal didn't have to prove Milan had done anything wrong. As such, the Rossoneri were condemned on the basis of a couple of ill-advised but less than earth-shattering phone calls in which their referee liaison officer talked about referees that the club liked to have, and those they didn't.

Match fixing it wasn't, unless we're up for charging everyone who's ever chewed Keith Hackett's ear off of a Monday. Still, in the mad rush of last summer it was enough to suggest to the tribunal that the Rossoneri probably had their own covert network of influence going with which to counter Juve. Twelve months on, and in the ongoing absence of any more damning against them despite a mountain of new evidence produced by Italian police, it looks a rather different picture.

I'm also feeling quite vindicated after justifying my allegiance to Milan in the Final, in part, by citing Liverpool's thuggy fans and then reading that a number of ticketless Scousers did their best to create Hillsborough the Sequel by rushing into the Olympic Stadium. I'm still sympathetic to the 'Pool supporters who didn't get in despite having legitimate tickets, but Liverpool yet again showed that a portion of its fanbase lives up to the reputation that Manchester United fans gleefully sing about:

You are a Scouser,
An ugly Scouser,
You're only happy,
On Giro day.
Your mum's out thieving,
Your dad's drug-dealing,
So please don't take my hubcaps away.

Incidentally, we desperately need chants like this in the SEC.


Anonymous said...

Giro Day?

Michael said...

The day that welfare checks are handed out in England.

Kanu said...

You bring up an important point about the difference between Milan and Juve as far as what they actually did, but it was still pretty shameful of the Italian soccer authorities to first deduct enough points to ban them from Cl and then lighten the penalty ofter several appeals just enough to allow them back in. And with Berlusconi's influence and the fact that AC Milan VP/CEO is also the president of Serie A, it's not too hard to connect the dots that AC Milan threw its weight and power around to make said decisions come to pass.

They also have a history of cheating, being relegated to Serie B in 1980 for their massive part in a bribing/match fixing/corruption scandal.

A full defense of you taking me to task for calling them cheaters here:


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

My only thought was.. the Champions League final itself was not a great match. It looked like a group stage game from November. I was marginally happy that Milan won, but I would've liked to have seen a more inspired performance.

As much as I want to dislike Fippo Inzaghi, he does seem to know where the goal is in big matches.