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Top clubs in Italian investigation

Posted on May 13, 2006 12:50 AM in

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NAPLES, Italy -- The biggest scandal to hit Italian football in 20 years has mushroomed after prosecutors revealed they were investigating top clubs, referees and officials for suspected match-fixing.

Two senior Juventus officials -- general manager Luciano Moggi and CEO Antonio Giraudo -- are among 41 people who are now formally under investigation.

AC Milan and Lazio also feature in a total 19 Serie A matches from last season which investigators suspect could have been rigged.

In Rome, police searched both the football federation's offices and those of the referees' association.

Referee Massimo De Santis, who will take part in next month's World Cup finals in Germany, is being investigated in a probe in Naples -- prosecutor Giovandomenico Leparo confirmed to CNN.

The Naples magistrates are looking into suspicions of "criminal association" and "sporting fraud." Investigations by public prosecutors do not necessarily lead to criminal charges.

The crisis has led incoming Prime Minister Romano Prodi to suggest that a political 'commisar' be put in charge of the federation (FIGC).

Prodi, who won last month's elections, put forward Gianni Letta, an ally of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and the center-right's failed candidate for president, as an ideal head of the federation should Italy's Olympic Committee decide effectively to take control of it.

Franco Carraro resigned as FIGC president on Monday and is also under investigation by Naples magistrates.

In Italy, the worlds of business and politics are closely linked to football -- Berlusconi is owner of AC Milan while the powerful Fiat-owning Agnelli family effectively control Juventus through a holding company.

Leading Italian businessman Diego Dalle Valle, owner of the luxury goods firm Tod's and honorary president of Florence club Fiorentina, was also named on Friday along with his brother Andrea.

Tod's and Fiorentina declined to comment. On Thursday, Fiorentina issued a statement saying the Della Valle family respected the rules of the sport.

Moggi and Giraudo are at the center of the scandal which was triggered by the publication of telephone taps of them discussing refereeing appointments with senior federation officials.

On Thursday the board of directors of Juventus resigned en masse ahead of a shareholders' meeting on June 29.

Turin magistrates have put Giraudo under investigation for possible false accounting relating to transfer dealings.

Shares in Juventus dived for a second day and were down seven percent at 1.97 euros in midday trade on Friday. They have lost some 15 percent of their value since Wednesday's close.

As well as the Naples investigation, magistrates in Rome are examining the operation of the GEA management company, which controls almost 200 players and coaches and is headed by Moggi's son Alessandro.

Amid the off-field storm, Juventus could win their 29th Italian title on Sunday's final day of the season although the status of last season's win now depends on the outcome of the investigations.

If Juventus were to be found guilty of "sporting fraud," they could be stripped of their title win and face demotion to the second tier Serie B.

In the last major scandal to hit Italian football, AC Milan and Lazio were demoted to Serie B in 1980 following a match-fixing and illegal gambling investigation.

(via CNN)

Rome Tennis Internationals (WTA)

Posted on May 12, 2005 4:51 PM in

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Women's Singles - Third round
Maria Sharapova (RUS) vs Mary Pierce (FRA)

One of the good things of Rome is that sometimes there's a really international event that enlightes the spirit. The "internationals of tennis" Telecom Italia Masters) is one of those events. Tonight I'll be there. She plays! :-)

Maria Sharapova

Posted on July 4, 2004 1:14 PM in

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Wonderful. Not only for those who love tennis as me, but also for those who unknown what is a tie break. Russia has a new "exportation" model of what we love in tennis.

Maria Sharapova sunk to her knees and covered her face in seeming disbelief as she won the Wimbledon title today. The 17-year-old Russian had completed a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Serena Williams, who was attempting to complete a hat-trick of Wimbledon successes.

She rushed to hug and kiss her father, Yuri, in the guest box before unsuccessfully trying to phone her mother Yelena in Florida on a mobile in front of a packed crowd who were applauding in delight.

Her family had sacrificed much for their daughter. They moved to America when Sharapova was seven, with Yelena having to stay behind for two years because of visa problems. With Yuri waiting on tables to fund her tennis, Sharapova often had to fend for herself. But she learned English in four months and today showed she was as quick a learner on court, with a composed display against top seed Williams.

Much had been of Sharapova's striking blonde looks, with comparisons drawn between her and compatriot Anna Kournikova . But the new Wimbledon Champion has been at pains to point out that she is the first Maria Sharapova rather than the next Kournikova and that she would "never be a pin-up". She wants to be known for her tennis first and foremost.

And she has displayed over the past two weeks at the All England Club that she has, even at her young age, the tools, temperament and attitude to succeed in the sport.

She might have been fast-tracked into the brightest of spotlights today, but nothing seemed to worry a very focused young lady. The task for her first Grand Slam final was daunting. After all Williams has, at the age of 22, already won six of them.

Serena suffered personal tragedy with the death of her sister Yetunde last September and a sustained a knee problem that limited her to just five tournaments since last year's Wimbledon triumph. But she found her form at these Championships. She bulldozed her way to the semi-finals against Amelie Mauresmo against whom she showed guts and heart to win through.

Yet in the opening set against Sharapova her fighting qualities went missing as she struggled to find the level of performance that she hoped would supply "the most special moment of my career", with the completion of a hat-trick of titles following an emotional 12 months.

Sharapova seemed to play without fear and came out fighting from the start. Williams' forehand was a weakness and Sharapova pounced all over it. The Russian has similar qualities to Williams with her battling spirit and power but it was the fact she remained composed about the opposition she faced that most impressed.

She was clearly not overawed by a player who has intimidated opponents since breaking through to the big-time with her sister Venus. She broke the Williams serve in just the fourth game with blistering returns that sapped the title-holder's confidence.

What must have also shocked the American was the pace and accuracy of Sharapova's second serve - one in the fifth game was timed at 102mph.

Salt was rubbed into Williams' wounds when she was broken again. The Russian fired a 119mph return in one of four break points she had, before clinching the game with a searing double-backhand across the court.

Sharapova showed her first sign of tension as she served out for the set. She double- faulted and hit a couple of forehand errors and presented two break point to Williams. But she regained her focus to take the lead.

Williams came out fighting in the second set and found more rhythm on her serve and even got a point to break Sharapova's opening service game. She then gained her first ray of hope by breaking the Russian for a 4-2 lead. But any notion that Sharapova would crumble was ill-founded.

She immediately broke back and Williams was reeling again as Sharapova returned to the corner and lobbed the champion before forcing Williams down on one knee to plant a forehand volley into the net for a break point.

Then Williams slipped as she ran for a return and Sharapova had broken again for a 5-4 lead. The Russian, taking her time as she had done throughout, was the picture of concentration as she began to serve out for the match.

Even when she went 15-0 down, the teenager was focused and slammed down an ace. Her intention was clear and when she forced Williams to make another forehand error, Sharapova was presented with two match points.

Williams saved the first but dumped another forehand into the net to send Sharapova to her knees as she celebrated a victory that proved a new generation had arrived.

I teach in higher courses about Communication and digital media. I've been coorganizer for TEDxViadellaConciliazione, plus founder of BETA magazine et al.

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Digital Clusters (How the Net is Marking Us), DigitCult, vol. 2, no. 3, 49-62 (2017)

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