Paul Pogba, Paulo Dybala and Patrice Evra of Juventus FC celebrate the victory after the TIM Cup match between AC Milan and Juventus FC
10 years ago today, Juventus were relegated to Serie B. It wasn’t for their play, but for their part in the famous Calciopoli match-fixing scandal. Fast forward to 2016, and Juve are stronger than ever, and now stand not only as the undisputed No. 1 in Italy, but back amongst Europe’s top competitors.
Ahead of World Cup 2006, Italy’s biggest clubs including AC Milan, Inter Milan, Fiorentina and more, were implicated in a match-fixing scandal, with the spotlight firmly on the Turin giants. Juventus managing director Luciano Moggi was found guilty of having an exclusive relationship with referee designators, exerting his influence to select his preferred referees.
In punishment, the club was handed the massive sentence. It started with relegation to Italy’s second division for the first time ever. On top of that, they were given a 9 point deduction at the start of league play, and had their 2005 and 2006 titles stripped by the Italian governing body.
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Juventus French striker David Trezeguet (3rd R) celebrates after scoring a goal together with teammates Alessandro Del Piero, Hasan Salihamidzic (R) and Pavel Nedved (2nd L)
Once Juventus were dropped to the Serie B, a plethora of key players left the club, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Patrick Vieira, Lilian Thuram, Gianluca Zambrotta, and more. It looked like the Old Lady were done for. But remarkably, stars Alessandro Del Piero, Gigi Buffon, Pavel Nedved and David Trezeguet stayed through the purgatory of Serie B, with Del Piero famously defending his decision to remain at his beloved Juventus, claiming "a true gentleman never leaves his lady."
Juventus rebuilt from the ground up, restructuring their management team, building a new stadium and renegotiating a number of key sponsorship contracts for the future. The Turin giants bounced up and down in the league before Antonio Conte’s arrival in the 2011/12 season resulted in their first title since the Calciopoli scandal. Since then, Juventus have won Serie A every year on the trot, making the Champions League final in 2015, and establishing themselves as a consistent power on the European front after cementing their domestic dominance.
If you were to ask someone who started watching soccer in the last three years what they thought of Juventus, you wouldn’t hear anything that indicated they had ever found themselves on hard times, let alone punished and relegated. All Juventus are known for now is their continued tradition of producing fantastic Italian defenders, building with the world’s best young talent and standing among the best in the world. That’s absolutely astounding considering where they came from just 10 years ago.