ROME — Parma retained its Serie A status but will start the new season with a five-point deduction, while forward Emanuele Calaio was banned for two years for what the Italian football federation deemed to be attempted match-fixing on Monday.
Calaio was also fined 20,000 euros ($23,000) after sending suspect text messages to an opposing player prior to the final match of the Serie B season in May, with Parma needing to beat Spezia to secure automatic promotion.
Calaio, who used to play for Spezia, sent four messages on WhatsApp to defender Filippo De Col, encouraging him and another former teammate Claudio Terzi, not to try too hard.
The 36-year-old Calaio insists he was joking and Parma, which risked being demoted back to Serie B because of the affair, said it will appeal.
"The court finds it proved that Calaio, in sending ex-teammate De Col the messages in question, put in place the attempt of a violation," read a statement by the FIGC. "Even the request and/or the invitation to not commit tackles on the person himself … can be believed to be evidence, at least in terms of attempt, of altering the outcome of the match."
Four days before the crucial match, Calaio sent a series of messages to De Col: "Hey Pippein (De Col) you better not give me a hard time Friday my friend," "Tell that to Claudiein (Terzi) too" and "Especially with the relationship you have with me."
After getting no response, Calaio sent another message several hours later: "However Pippein be calm I was joking anyways for me it’s the same after all I’ll retire in a bit."
The 24-year-old De Col, who had last received a message from Calaio in December, immediately showed the messages to the Spezia team manager, and the authorities were then informed.
Parma won the match 2-0 to finish in second place and return to the top flight just three years after being declared bankrupt. It finished level on points with Frosinone, which drew 2-2 against Foggia, but clinched second courtesy of a better head-to-head record.
It became the first Italian club to earn three successive promotions, in what was seen as a fairytale rise back to the top.
The FIGC prosecutor had requested Parma either be deducted six points from the upcoming season or two from the previous campaign. That would have put it back to fourth place, below Palermo as well as Frosinone — which went on to win the playoff to also earn promotion.
He had also asked for Calaio to be banned for four years.
"Parma note with great disappointment the verdict issued today by the National Federal Court," read a club statement. "We consider the condemnation of our employee Emanuele Calaio to be abnormal in respect to the facts that led to his referral and the inquiry, and the very heavy penalty inflicted on our club for objective responsibility illogical and in contrast with recent sporting judgments.
"We trust that the complete lack of connection of Parma to any unlawful behaviour will be recognized by the Federal Court of Appeal, to which we will resort in a short matter of time, in the hope of finding justice."