Bad Sport: Soccergate (2021)

‘Soccergate’ (2021) shows how justice is denied

Soccergate (aka Footballgate) is Episode 3 of the Netflix series Bad Sport , but it provides disappointing coverage on the 2006 match fixing scandal commonly known as “Calciopoli”. I learn something from almost all the documentaries I’ve reviewed, and it is only a very few that leave me with so many questions that I am compelled to do much more research.

I watched this show because I had just reviewed Super League and Black and White Stripes. The films made me curious about the Agnelli family and Juventus. I thought Soccergate would fill in a few blanks and establish whether or not Juventus was truly guilty of match fixing back in 2006. Instead, because the documentary was so lacking in information, I had to look for better sources, including my BigSoccer friend Falvo.

The episode details investigation of football executive and fraudster Luciano Moggi and even includes a brief interview with him. But the story really wraps around the work of the 2 men, the public prosecutor Pino Narducci and the police investigator, who try to nail Moggi in the Calciopoli scandal. So I spent an hour watching their investigation slowly unfold bit by bit (I fell asleep 4 times), only to learn in the ending credits that Moggi’s conviction was eventually overturned, and he served very little time in prison, if any. Like, what’s the point of this documentary?

Calciopoli (Footballgate)

“Calciopoli” loosely translates as  “Footballgate”, similar to Watergate. After over a decade of trials and investigation, the 2006 match-fixing scandal was reinterpreted as unethical behavior and an attempt to influence matches, but not strictly match fixing. Which just goes to show that if you can prolong and appeal a ruling long enough, justice delayed becomes justice denied. However, the business effect of the scandal was that Serie A lost its perch as the best league in the world and was supplanted by the EPL.

The relegation of Juventus also prompted a mass exodus of important players, such as Fabio Cannavaro, Emerson, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira, and Gianluca Zambrotta; some thirty other Serie A players who participated at the 2006 FIFA World Cup opted to move to other European leagues in the wake of the scandal.

Calciopoli Wikipedia page

Luciano Moggi

The theme of the film seems to be proof of Moggi’s crimes. The investigators collect 171,000 phone calls. The film maintains that Moggi affects matches by choosing the referees he wants, punishing referees, and getting referees to suspend players from teams that will play Juve the following week. He is recorded telling a referee administrator that “I need the yellow cards to do their work”.

The documentary only alludes to Moggi’s unsavory past quite briefly. If you read Luciano Moggi’s wikipedia of 29 pages, you see that he has a long history of influencing matches via referees.

  • 1979: at Roma, Moggi dines with match referees the night before the game
  • 1992: at Napoli, Moggi is accused of plying prostitutes to referees before the 1991/92 UEFA Cup
  • 2006: at Juventus, Moggi is identified as the main figure in Calciopoli.
    • 2 of 5 Serie A championships are revoked: 2004/5 and 2005/06
    • The Italian Federation (FIGC) bans Moggi from football for 5 years
    • For the 2006/07 season, Juventus is relegated to Serie B
  • 2007: additional investigations revealed that Moggi had 5 foreign SIM cards (for burner phones) that he used to communicate not just with the referee assignors, but with some referees as well (including referee Gianluca Paparesta, whom Moggi claimed he had locked in the changing room after calling back 2 goals by Juventus).
  • 2009: Moggi is put on trial for criminal conspiracy aimed at unlawful competition via GEA World, the sports agencies he owns with his son Alessandro Moggi. He is convicted but in 2014 achieves an annulment partially through statute of limitations.
  • 2010: the FIGC ban Moggi for life
  • 2010: Andrea Agnelli becomes president of Juventus
  • 2015: many charges are dismissed due to the statute of limitations
    • Juventus then sues the FIGC for the loss of their championships. But in 2017, the court re-confirms the opinion that Moggi had committed sporting fraud and Juve loses its case.
    • Apparently as of 2021, Moggi continues to appeal his case and the recovery of his reputation through various sporting courts.

In Conclusion

Juventus’ defense is that every club was doing it, but only they were severely punished. They also maintain that the Agnellis knew nothing about this. Yes, of course.

In the face of so much evidence, the lack of punishment is quite disappointing. Maybe that is typical for sport. And perhaps the lack of justice is even more pronounced in Italy, where football and politics are quite intertwined. It made me realize why the mafia is strong in some countries, because the alternative justice they mete out is delivered much more quickly. 😏

Maybe it is not the fault of the filmmaker that this story is so unsatisfying. But none of the other tales of corruption that I’ve reviewed have been so disappointing, both in content and in purpose. So just read this review for the facts as I’ve uncovered them, but skip this film and maybe the whole series.

5 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5


  • Released: 2021-10-06 (Netflix)
  • Alternate title on IMDB is Footballgate, which might be a translation of “Calciopoli”
  • I watched this on Netflix, where it is 67 minutes
  • In English and Italian with English sub-titles
  • IMDB
  • Director: Alex Kiehl
  • Stars: Napoli Prosecutor Pino Narducci , Fraudster Luciano Moggi
  • Watch the Trailer for the Bad Sport series
  • Website