Juventus turmoil: Raided by police and struggling in Serie A

For nine consecutive seasons, Juventus won the Italian title being before toppled as champions by Inter Milan in May.

A Juventus fan looks dejected after the loss against Atalanta. Juevntus has had a dreadful run in the Serie A this season.   -  REUTERS

As if having its offices raided by police investigating financial crimes wasn’t serious enough for Juventus, Italy’s most successful football team is enduring damaging turmoil on the field too.

For nine consecutive seasons, Juventus won the Serie A being before toppled as champion by Inter Milan in May. Now the team is being booed by its fans as it slides down the standings.

The jeering followed a 1-0 loss to Atalanta on Saturday that left the 36-time Italian champion in eighth place after more than a third of the season. It’s not about trying to regain the title now, just a scramble to avoid missing out on lucrative UEFA income with Atalanta seven points ahead in the fourth and last Champions League qualification place.

Although it followed a dispiriting 4-0 collapse at Chelsea on Tuesday, at least a place in the round of 16 of this season’s Champions League has already been secured for February.

Much uncertainty, though, hangs over its leadership in the coming weeks after financial police searched the club's offices in Turin and Milan on Friday to gather information relating to player transfers and agent dealings between 2019 and this year.

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Prosecutors are investigating whether Juventus, which is listed on the Milan stock exchange, misled investors — particularly whether invoices for non-existent transactions were issued to demonstrate income that in turn could be deemed false accounting. The complexity of the case could center on challenges around determining how much above the expected value of a transfer a player is worth.

Juventus confirmed that its president, Andrea Agnelli, was under investigation along with vice president Pavel Nedved, a decorated former player, chief financial officer Stefano Cerrato and other former staff.

Italian market regulator CONSOB is investigating Juventus over revenue from player trading that was 43.2 million in 2020-21 and 172 million in the previous financial year.

“The company is cooperating with the investigators,” Juventus said in a statement, “and with CONSOB and trusts that it will clarify any aspect of interest to it as it believes to have acted in compliance with the laws and regulations governing the preparation of financial reports, in accordance with accounting principles and in line with the international practice in the football industry and market conditions.”

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The investigation is a further setback for Agnelli, who had brought back title-winning coach Massimiliano Allegri after Andrea Pirlo's struggles in his single season in charge.

The end of the team’s Serie A supremacy coincided with the fall from grace in football politics for Agnelli, whose reign as head of the European Club Association ended in April with his ill-fated attempt to split from UEFA and form a largely-closed Super League.

Agnelli, along with Barcelona and Real Madrid, is still clinging to the hope of launching a breakaway competition that locks in places for the elite like Juve.

The reason why the two-time European champion would be so desperate for such a competition has been reinforced by its domestic struggles and defeats to teams like Atalanta, which only made its Champions League debut in 2019.

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