Italian soccer has been going through a quite a rough patch over the past year or so with match-fixing scandals coming out of the woodwork. The latest scandal has resulted in a player, Emanuele Pesoli, putting his life at risk by going on a hunger strike in an attempt to clear his name.
Pesoli, a 31-year-old defender with Verona, decided to chain himself to the fence gates of the Italian Football Federation’s head offices in Rome on Aug. 11 after he had received a three-year ban from the sport for alleged match fixing in a scandal known as ‘Calcioscommesse.’
Authorities accused Pesoli of helping rig a game on May 11, 2011 between Varese and Siena. He was playing for Siena at the time. He said he didn’t do anything wrong and feels he should be given the chance to defend himself in a court of law. He said he’s deeply hurt by the accusations and suspension and would like to dace his accusers in court. He added that his hunger strike is a strong way to protest his punishment, but his life is in ruins over something he hasn’t done. Pesoli said he’s stay chained to the gate as long as possible and by the afternoon of Aug. 13 he’d been there for 60 hours.
The latest scandal involves numerous teams, club owners, managers, and players. The verdicts in the investigation were announced on Aug. 10 and Pesoli started his hunger strike the next day. He took a chair with him and an umbrella to keep the sun off of him and simply chained his wrist to the gate. In all, a total of 26 officials and players received suspensions for fixing the outcomes of games.
One of the main offenders was Antonio Conte, the manger of Juventus. Conte led his team to the Italian Serie A championship last year, but will now have to sit this season out as he was hit with a 10-month suspension. Conte isn’t completely off the hook with the ban since the police are also investigating his alleged illegal activities. Conte was the manager of Siena when Pesoli was playing for the club in 2011and he has been accused of not reporting known match-fixing activity.
It’s not the first time Juventus personnel have been linked with illegal activity. There was also a huge scandal back in 2006 in which the Turin-based team was demoted from Serie A to Serie B and had a league championship stripped from them. They managed to win the title last year under Conte during his first season in charge. While the team isn’t directly involved this time, it said it stands by their manager and believes he’ll be found not guilty during a September appeal of his ban. Massimo Carrera, Conte’s assistant, will take over the managerial duties in Conte’s absence.