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Why Milan Shouldn't Be in Athens
Independent, May 23rd, 2007 3:45PM

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Technically, there can be no question that AC Milan's Rossoneri deserve to be in Wednesday's Champions League final. Driven by the superb midfield trio of Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Kaka, the man who would undoubtedly be crowned this year's World Player of the Year award if Milan wins, the team has only gotten better as the season has gone on, punctuated with its stunning semifinal performances against Manchester United.

Regardless of what happens in Athens, many people feel that AC Milan should never have been allowed to enter this year's Champions League, given the direct involvement of team executives in Serie's widespread match-fixing scandal last season. In fact, as Frank Dunne of the Guardian points out, Milan wouldn't have played in the competition this season under new UEFA rules, amended in January. UEFA was reluctant to admit Milan into the Champions League at all, but because its statutes were unclear, the organization relented after Milan chairman Silvio Berlusconi threatened to sue.

Now, Italian clubs are again complaining that Milan was dealt a soft blow compared to others, despite having played a substantial part in the Calciopoli scandal. And they have a point, says Dunne. Referee caretaker Leonardo Meani used to inform Coach Carlo Ancelotti of Milan's match officials well ahead of games even though officials were supposed to be chosen through a random draw. Worse, Meani also operated a network of so-called "on-side" Milan-friendly linesmen he got assigned to their matches. And yet here sit the Rossoneri, now one game away from Champions League glory, while Juventus had to toil the year away in Serie B. Not fair? Probably.

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