At 7pm on Tuesday evening, Tottenham Hotspur released a video of managing director of football Fabio Paratici explaining the decision to part company with Antonio Conte and replace him with Cristian Stellini and Ryan Mason for the last 10 games of the season. There was not much in it — Paratici said Spurs “will fight to achieve our target” — but it was a surprise to see the man banned from Italian football wheeled out as the public face of the club.
At 10.37am on Wednesday morning, FIFA confirmed Paratici’s 30-month ban from Italian football had been extended “to have worldwide effect”. Paratici was now banned from football everywhere — and his position at Tottenham rendered completely untenable — but he was still front and centre of Spurs’ official website.
Neither Tottenham nor Paratici had any idea that FIFA’s statement was coming. They finally broke their silence at 8pm on Wednesday evening, issuing a statement saying that they are “urgently seeking further clarification” from FIFA about the details of their extension of Paratici’s ban, and promising to “update on this matter in due course”.
Even in this, the week when Tottenham parted company with their £15million-a-year head coach while keeping his backroom staff on board, it is hard to imagine a more embarrassing sequence of events for the club.
Paratici is one of 11 former Juventus executives who were banned from Italian football after the Italian FA (FIGC) used new evidence gathered in a separate criminal investigation, known as Prisma, to reopen a case it lost this time last year. Prisma brought accusations of false accounting and market manipulation, with investigators alleging Juventus had essentially engineered zero-sum swap deals while drawing a theoretical accounting benefit.
All 11 deny any wrongdoing and an appeal against the FIGC sanctions will be heard by the Italian Olympic Committee on April 19.
Tottenham, a club that has spent the last 20 years trying to run itself the right way, building carefully, always keeping an eye on the long-term future, has publicly tied itself to a man whose name is now tainted by allegations of corporate malpractice. They have had their heads in the sand about this for months, acting as if they hoped it would all have blown over by the time they resurfaced.
Because if Wednesday’s news came as a shock to anyone at Tottenham, they have only themselves to blame. Paratici’s legal troubles have been widely reported. Everyone knew Paratici had been banned for 30 months by the FIGC in January. Everyone knew that he was facing a criminal trial over the Prisma investigation, with the location for the trial now set to be determined on May 10. Everyone knew there was a risk FIFA would extend his ban. Everyone knew that the FIGC may pursue a second set of sporting sanctions, not only…
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