Controversy over Juventus versus Inter during 1998

In all the splendor and sparkle of its stars, one thing is undeniable that there is a part of Italian football that has been built up from one scandal to another. The case of the Totonero mafia in 1980, and of course the Calciopoli mafia in 2006 which dropped the hegemony of Italian football, and until now has not fully recovered.

Exactly today, 22 years ago, we want to remember one of the most controversial Italian soccer matches, even still being debated after these two decades. On 26 April 1998, Inter Milan traveled to the Delle Alpi Stadium in Turin challenging Juventus and defending champion, for a crucial decisive duel to win the Italian League. The Nerazzuri have not won a Scudetto in nine years.

But this time led by coach Luigi Simoni and relying on the best player in the universe, Ronaldo, Inter has a great opportunity, only one point at odds from Juventus before the big match. Rivalry titled Derby d’Italia filled with top players in the world. Juventus with their coach Marcelo Lippi fielded Didier Deschamps, Edgar Davids, Filippo Inzaghi, Zinedine Zidane and Alessandro Del Piero. Inter are counting on Javier Zanetti, Diego Simeone, Aron Winter, Youri Djorkaeff and Il Fenomeno Ronaldo, Ballon d’Or winners. But of all these players, the main highlight of the match turned out to be the figure of Referee Piero Ceccarini.

Action at first as expected. Both teams play with a high tempo, changing and attacking each other. Juventus took the lead in the 21st minute which Del Piero created through a low flick, after a series of experiments. The match was more exciting, Inter tried to retaliate, relying on the sharpness of Ronaldo who continued to threaten the Bianconeri defense, but had not managed to even the score at the break.

It was during the 45 minutes of the second half that it was controversy, full of criticism and conflict, to date, especially the Interisti. Tight match still occurred for twenty minutes as in the first half, until the 69th and 70th minutes.

The attack that Inter built went into the penalty, a tight ball of struggle, but the ball was in the path of Ronaldo, who got good space and struck the ball past Defender Mark Iuiliano. Aware of losing his position and a great threat awaits, Iuliano intentionally crashes himself into Ronaldo’s body, and drops him.

Nearly all Inter players reacted waiting for the Ceccarini whistle to give a penalty for Iuliano’s ‘deadly collision’, but the sound of the whistle was unheard of. Ceccarini from close range ordered to continue the game. As they continued to hunt and protest, the Inter players became unfocused, the ball was at the feet of the Juventus players and gave it to Zidane, then dribbled and then let go of the soft pull on Del Piero.

Del Piero’s action was intercepted by Inter defender Taribo West with little body contact, causing Del Piero to fall. For this moment, Ceccarini blew the whistle and gave a penalty to Juventus. The moment Ronaldo was hit by Iuliano with Del Piero blocked by West, only 15 seconds away. Ceccarini’s two crucial decisions are one of the most seized scandals of Italian football.

Players, Inter staff rampaging, chasing, cursing Ceccarini. Simoni, who was always calm and furious, joined in condemning Ceccarini, and he was expelled from the field by shouting at the referee who had acted shamefully.

After a riot of about five minutes, the match finally could be continued, Del Piero took the ‘gift’, but his shot was blocked by Gianluca Pagliuca’s feet. The Inter player’s motivation was raised again, but until the end of the match, Ronaldo Cs could not create a goal back against Angelo Peruzzi.

As expected, as Juventus players and fans celebrated this important victory, the Inter retainers went on a rampage again, chasing Ceccarini until the camera was no longer highlighted. And what we already know is that the final result of that season, Juventus won the Scudetto title with a collection of 74 points and trailed Inter in second place with 69 points.

The controversy that favored Juventus in the game certainly received criticism and criticism from various audiences, even to the Italian Parliament. Inter supporters dubbed the dirty match La Grande Ruberia (Great Robbery). Ronaldo himself loudly accused Juventus of being like a mafia by stealing the title that Inter Milan had to win.

Meanwhile, twenty years later, in 2018, referee Piero Ceccarini remained in his decision not to give Inter a penalty, even though during the incident he and his family received many threats.

An unforgettable match that makes us remember what the Prime Minister of Italy, Giulio Andreotti or Don Giulio said: “In Italy there are no angels and no demons, only small sinners. Making mistakes and cheating is a matter of small matter for Italians. Doing small sins do not make people go to hell provided they repent immediately.

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