According to Italian journalist Paolo Ziliani, Bayern Munich could soon find itself a victim of the accounting scandal currently making headlines in Italy. Matthijs de Ligt is one of a long list of current and former Juventus players who face a 30-day ban from football due to hidden salary payments made back in 2020.
Here’s a breakdown of the situation, and why this is happening:
- In 2020, during the pandemic, Juventus announced that players would renounce four months of wages to “help” the club financially. However, a secret agreement was made between the board and the players, where three out of the four months of wages would be paid off-the-books, spread over a longer period of time.
- This was done to hide losses worth over 200 million euros. As you may recall, the entire Juventus board resigned over the scandal a few months ago. They all face criminal charges in Italy.
- Juventus team captain Giorgio Chiellini allegedly told the team to not share details of the deal on WhatsApp, messages which were subsequently handed over to the authorities as proof of wrongdoing. In fact, De Ligt and another Juve player — Mattia De Sciglio — were the ones who provided the screenshots to the prosecutors.
- 23 + 17 players across two seasons could be banned for at least 30 days, alongside coach Maurizio Sarri, for accepting payments that were kept off the balance sheets. You can see the list here. De Ligt’s name appears on the first list, for the 19/20 season. This ban would even affect players who are not at Juventus any more.
- Juventus could face further sanctions, including more points deductions, automatic relegation, and the loss of the 19/20 Scudetto.
This investigation is serious. If the FIGC prosecutors choose to ban all the players involved in this scandal, then the reverberations across Europe would be severe. However, there are a few questions left unanswered:
- How would a potential ban be enforced outside of Italy? Would UEFA/FIFA have to approve the sanctions? Last week, Tottenham sporting director Fabio Paratici received a 2.5-year ban from football inside Italy due to his role in Juventus’ capital gains scandal; however, it’s still unclear whether it would affect his work in England. De Ligt’s participation in the Bundesliga and Champions League would theoretically be unaffected if it’s just an Italy-only ban.
- Since De Ligt and De Sciglio cooperated with prosecutors to give evidence, could they maybe escape the ban? This might sound like wishful thinking, but they were the ones who provided the screenshots which helped bust Juventus.
- The 30-day number is just a minimum. Could these players get banned for longer? If so, that would be devastating to Bayern Munich’s season.
Needless to say, this is deeply concerning. Hopefully the German media pick up on this and ask Bayern some questions — they may have a clue of what’s to come. If De Ligt gets banned during February or March, that means he’d miss the key games against PSG in the Champions League. With the defense already looking thin, Nagelsmann simply cannot afford the Dutchman’s absence.