A flawed legacy: The Moratti family and Calcio

Richard Hinman Date:11th July 2013 at 6:00am
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Massimo Moratti InterOne of the most influential and controversial families in Italian sport, the Moratti dynasty hold a unique and contentious place in Calcio history.

The story begins with Angelo Moratti, who after making his fortunes in oil, became president of Inter in 1955.

The team had been in the shadow of their city rivals AC Milan after limited success on the European stage, despite sporadic league titles. Moratti was set on conquering the continent and creating a legacy at the club. He would do both in equal measure.

The man who Moratti trusted to oversee this transformation was Argentinian coach Helenio Herrera. Having arrived from Barcelona in 1960, Herrera was joined by the then European player of the year Luis Suárez, who he coached in Spain.

Herrera introduced a 3-5-2 formation and a defence first attitude to the Nerazzurri. The team gradually improved and won the league title in the 1962/63 season. In the same year, Moratti’s hard work off the field came to fruition when a new training centre was built that would bear his name.

Moratti and Herrera were building a team that included some of the club’s greatest players of the era. The likes of Giacinto Facchetti, Armando Picchi, Sandro Mazzola and of course Suárez graced the San Siro pitch at the peak of their powers.

Inter finally achieved their ultimate goal with a European Cup triumph against the great Real Madrid in 1964. A year later, Inter defeated another European great in another European Cup final, this time it was Benfica. After both successes, Inter backed them up with the Intercontinental Cup.

interThe side of the 1960s could claim to be one of the greatest teams in Italian history and Moratti had secured his place in Inter folklore. Yet, the side’s legacy has been tainted by controversy.

British newspaper The Times reported in 2003 that Angelo Moratti chose and then placed huge pressure upon Hungarian referee Gyorgy Vadas in 1965 in an attempt to fix a European Cup tie against Malaga.

It was also claimed that Inter had made similar match-fixing attempts in the European competition during both of the previous seasons. Brian Glanville, who researched and wrote the article, once said of Inter’s success in Europe in the early 1960s was “the fruit of bribery and corruption in which Angelo Moratti played a crucial part in a process implemented by two men Deszo Szolti, the Hungarian fixer and Italo Allodi Inter’s sporting director.”

In the aftermath of the Times report, ex- player Ferruccio Mazzola also alleged that there was a systemic use of illegal, performance enhancing drugs at the club under Angelo Moratti.

Mazzola won a legal case in 2010, and Inter decided not to appeal against the decision. This was taken by many in the Italian media as a declaration of Inter’s guilt although there has been no confession since.

Angelo Moratti stepped down as president in 1968 and died in 1981. He would never face the storm that many claim he created. However, he remains one of the influential men in the history of Inter who transformed the club into a great European side.

Massimo Moratti, son of Angelo, took over the club in 1995. He had a similar remit as his father, for Inter to dominate both Italy and Europe.

Massimo did like his father and enticed some of the best players in the world to the San Siro. He twice broke the world transfer record when recruiting Ronaldo from Barcelona and Christian Vieri from Lazio. Other notable names brought to the club in the early years of Moratti’s reign include Hernan Crespo, Angelo Peruzzi and Juan Sebastien Veron, just to name a few.

Yet, this led to only limited success for the club. In fact, Massimo Moratti over saw one of the most baron spells of Inter’s history between 1995 and 2004, with only a UEFA Cup in 1998 to show for the huge amounts of money invested in the club.

This steered Massimo Moratti into a trait that could not have been further from the model set out by his father, that of sacking coaches. Angelo Moratti stuck with Herrera despite a relatively slow start, yet Massimo got rid of many big names in pursuit of success including Marcello Lippi and Hector Cuper.

The appointment of Roberto Mancini in 2004 was a turning point in the presidency of Massimo Moratti. Mancini quickly brought success to Inter and domination of Serie A began for the club. The arrival of players of the calibre of Zlatan Ibrahimovic took the side to another level.

However, failures in Europe ultimately cost Mancini his job in 2008. This ruthless decision by Moratti was to prove justified.

Jose Mourinho was brought in to give Moratti what he craved, the Champions League. In his first season Mourinho won the league, but did not deliver in Europe. Ahead of the 2009/10 season pressure was mounting on Moratti.

The season proved to be the greatest in the club’s history as the Nerazzuri became the first team in Italy to win Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League all in one season. The great Barcelona team fell in the semifinals of Europe’s premier competition before a final victory over Bayern Munich in Madrid, who themselves were one step away from a treble.

Since the Champions League triumph and the departure of Mourinho, Inter have declined. Managers and players have come and gone but Moratti has remained, although even his future at the club is now in doubt.

Massimo Moratti InterRecently, it has emerged that Indonesian business man Erick Thohir is close to a deal to buy part of Inter, which could spell the end of Massimo Moratti’s time in control of the club. However, his legacy at the club is assured.

Yet, like his father, the legacy that he has created is tainted by match fixing scandals.

In the wake of the Calciopoli, counter claims were made against Inter. This issue has split Italian football, with some claiming Inter are innocent victims in a scandal they had nothing to do with. Others believe that Inter were the main instigators behind the wrongdoings.

The outspoken nature of Moratti has not helped to cool the situation with the current Inter president often accusing the Italian authorities and referees of favouring Juventus and other clubs ahead of the Nerazzurri.

The Moratti family will go down in Italian football history and brought some of the greatest players in the world to the club and the two most successful periods of the club’s 105 year identity. For others, particularly Milan and Juventus fans, they shamed Italian football by overspending on foreign players and being at the heart of match fixing scandals.

With the on-going nature of the scandals that loom over the Moratti legacy, it could be some time before a definitive view of the pair is cast.

Follow Richard Hinman on Twitter: @RichardHinman


4 responses to “A flawed legacy: The Moratti family and Calcio”

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – If Inter were at the centre of Calciopoli, then why did the club win nothing? If that was true you are saying Moratti and Inter fixed matches to ensure their bitter rivals Milan & JuBe benefitted. Which of course is a ridiculous idea!

  2. Angelli says:

    Well, Don (I cant help but think you are biased). If you look at what Inter won after the Calciopoli scandal, then it would seem that their ‘surprise’ success was a direct result of other teams being penalised, namely Juve.

    Clearly something happened and Inter were involved – and I suspect others too. Also, Calciopoli was not about match fixing, it was about getting favourable referees.

    Nonetheless, a good article highlighting the fact that Inter have always needed to cheat to win.

  3. I think I may need to explain my thinking when I was writing this article, as there has been plenty of fallout especially on twitter.
    I tried to put across the deferring views of the Moratti family. I never stated that Massimo Moratti or Inter were guilty of match fixing in the wake of calciopoli just that some imply that they were.
    At no point in the article do I say that I believe that Inter did anything wrong rather that others do believe that they did something wrong.
    I hope that helps people understand my article at little more.

  4. Alwin Lee says:

    Well Angelli clearly something was happened and that was juve being caught and sack to serie B, luckily AC Milan with the power of berlusconi were able to survive in the serie A, and calciopoli was not only getting favorable referees also involving the player to not scoring, miss passing, or not saving the shoot.