29 October ~ Among the many surprises of the first eight rounds of Italy's Serie A, including the fact that no team won more than four games, perhaps the greatest is not that Inter had only eight points but that they conceded five penalties. After the latest, when reserve goalkeeper Luca Castellazzi saved German Denis's 90th-minute kick with his legs in the 1-1 draw at Atalanta, the club decided to speak out. On TV hardly an hour after the game had ended director Ernesto Paolillo implied that there was a plot against the club. This was obviously part of a strategy designed to put the referees of future Inter games under pressure.
If you look at the penalties awarded against Inter objectively, you can say that aginst Napoli (0-3) and Catania (1-2) mistakes were made, but that live and at normal speed you can see why they were given. Against Bologna (3-1) and Novara (1-3) Inter can have no complaints. As for the penalty against Atalanta, I was there and I think that the referee, or rather his assistant, got it wrong, but we've all seen them given for less.
The significance of this penalty, though, is that before the 2006 "Calciopoli" scandal, it would never have been awarded in the 90th minute to a provincial side drawing 1-1 with a metropolitan giant. And who benefited most from the scandal? Inter, of course. They won the title in 2006 when Juventus were stripped of it, and again a year later when Juventus were in Serie B and Milan had to overcome a points deduction. They then won three more titles when Juve were still suffering the fallout from the scandal. They should remember this before launching thinly veiled accusations.
Inter should also remember their part ten years ago in "passportopoli", when several top clubs falsified the passports of non-EU players to give the impression that they had Italian antecedents. One of these was Inter's Uruguayan international Alvaro Recoba. Despite fielding what were in effect ineligible players, none of the clubs involved ever had points deducted. This in a country where in minor football, you suffer an automatic 3-0 defeat if an ineligible player is on the field for just 30 seconds and never touches the ball.
In any case, does anyone think that Inter would be complaining now if, in exactly similar circumstances, they had received five penalties instead of conceding them? It's time journalists had the courage to ask this question when club spokesmen begin talking of “plots” , because it would expose their blatant hypocrisy for all to see. And as a postscript, in the 1960s Helenio Herrera's Inter (with Massimo Moratti's father Angelo as president) once went 99 league games without conceding a penalty. You can be sure that no Inter director went on TV to complain about that. Richard Mason