Ah where do you start…
It’s not just with the recent headlines about Silvio Berlusconi, he is a subject which the Guardian could fill their entire paper. Front page with the politics, inside section about the alleged bribes. Then the business section, the gossip column and finally… the football.
Before we get down and dirty with Il Cavaliere, let’s give his club a mention:
I really don’t have to say too much because you have to be living in a cave not to know about AC Milan – pronounced “Meeeeeeeeeelan” when you are reading the name out loud. (@acjimbo)
Currently they have many household names in their squad, such as Pato, van Bommel, Inzaghi, Seedorf, Cassano…Zlatan…Robinho… all internationals, all world class.
Not forgetting their past managers such as Capello and Ancelloti, as well as playing legends Baresi and Maldini.
Milan is one of the most successful clubs in Italy, having won a total of 29 trophies. The club is ranked as the seventh richest football club in the world by Forbes magazine, making it the richest in Italian football.
Despite being involved in the 2006 scandal, after an appeal A.C Milan were allowed to participate in the Champions League which they won for the seventh time:
I could go on but as I said you know all about them.
(I did something about Jesus Gil the other day but listen, compared to Silvio… he is small fry. Not even a small fry. A speck of dust on his trousers.)
According to Forbes, Berlusconi is Italy’s third richest man, owning assets in the fields of television, newspapers, publishing, cinema, finance, banking and insurance.. His main company run three national television channels, he has Italy’s largest advertising and publicity agency. There’s the publishing house, the newspaper… oh and don’t forget he’s a major shareholder in one of the the ten largest private companies in Italy. He also co-founded one of the country’s biggest banking and insurance groups. Plus his interests in cinema and home video distribution.
And of course – he owns A.C Milan.
Berlusconi formed the Forza Italia party and in 1994, with the help of a massive campaign broadcast on his three TV networks, he won the general election for his first stay as Prime Minister. But this was short lived. Word got out that the Milan magistrates were investigating his alleged Mafia ties, with the speculation and efforts of his opposition, his government collapsed.
But you can never keep a good man (?) down and after a successful May 2001 general election he became Prime Minister again. He stayed in office this time until 2006.
But you can never keep… Only two years later he was to run once more and at the time of posting…. Silvio is still the Prime Minister.
I've very simplified what is a long and complicated political career. Click here to read the entire entry.
His legal issues
Right then… *rolls up sleeves*… Berlusconi has been fighting legal battles as long as he’s been Prime Minister. The past cases against him include bribery of judges, bribe to Bettino Craxi via an offshore bank account, false accounting (six times on this but each time the case was dropped), embezzlement, tax evasion (aquitted), Trafficing of drugs, Mafia collusion and money laundering.
All of these cases were either dropped trials, acquitted or archived for variation of the law (a law which the Berlusconi government very conveniently changed).
– There was a recent trial involving David Mills, husband of Tessa Jowell. It was known as “Jowellgate”:
David Mills, lawyer husband of the British cabinet minister Tessa Jowell, acted for Berlusconi in the early 1990s, and was later accused by Italian prosecutors of money laundering and of accepting a gift from Berlusconi in return for witness evidence favourable to Berlusconi given in court. Mills claimed that the money in question came not from Berlusconi but from another client. Tessa Jowell then announced her separation from Mills, which some of the UK media suggested was an attempt to distance herself from a potential scandal. She also denied having discussed the money with her husband.
In December 2010, information obtained from the Wikileaks website revealed Mr Berlusconi had become very fond of Ms Jowell, referring to her in private company as ‘piccolo puntaspilli’ (the little pincushion).
On 17 February 2009, Mills was found guilty of accepting a bribe of about 400,000 pounds sterling, allegedly from Silvio Berlusconi, and was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison; the appeal ended on 25 February 2010, when the Supreme Court of Cassation ruled that the statute of limitations had expired, and so Mills had committed the crime but was no longer punishable for it.
As you can see Berlusconi is a bit like the Teflon Don in that no matter how many times he has been tried, nobody can make anything stick to Silvio. But…
I’m really going to shorten things now because this one could go on forever – Let’s fast forward to his most recent scandals. Yes scandals plural.
This latest series of events started back in April 2009 when Silvio attendance at a girl’s 18th birthday party in Naples. His wife was furious and filed for divorce. She claimed that Berlusconi had not attended his own sons’ 18th birthday parties, and that she “cannot remain with a man who consorts with minors” and “is not well”.
Noemi Letizia, the girl in question, gave interviews to the Italian press, revealing that she calls Berlusconi “papi” (“daddy”), that they often spent time together in the past, and that Berlusconi would take care of her career as showgirl or politician, whichever she opted to pursue.
In June 2009, Patrizia D’Addario, a 42-year old escort from Bari, claimed that she had been recruited twice (by a common friend, who paid her 2000 Euros) in order to spend the evening, and once also the night with Berlusconi. Magistrates in Bari are investigating this case, since the common friend could be prosecuted for favouring prostitution.
Other young women have also described to the press the parties held in Berlusconi’s Rome residence while photos and transcripts of audio cassettes circulated widely in the press.
In November 2010, teenage Moroccan belly dancer and alleged prostitute Karima El Mahroug (better known with the nickname of Ruby Rubacuori) claimed to have been given $10,000 by Berlusconi at parties at his private villas. The girl told prosecutors in Milan that these events were like orgies where Berlusconi and 20 young women performed an African-style ritual known as the “bunga bunga” in the nude. This scandal known as Rubygate.
It was later discovered El Maroug was previously arrested but was released after Silvio made a couple of calls.
Oh and finally for now… Berlusconi has also come under fire for reportedly spending 1.8 million Euros in state funds to further the career of a largely unknown Bulgarian actress, Michelle Bonev.
I’ve got to stop there because as you can see, this is getting very long… F’nar… Let’s switch to:
Ah you lucky people you’ll never guess what. Even with all these other distractions Silvio had time for music, but not just for listening, he got very involved.
Quite a few years ago Berlusconi was dining in Naples when he was serenaded by Mariano Apicella, a Neapolitan guitarist. Silvio took this discovery and helped to co-write three albums. Below is a sample song, plus a video of Apicella performing live… sorry that should be…. Burlusconi introducing a live performance of Mariano Apicella but then ends up singing himself:
» Mariano Apicella – Meglio ‘na Canzone
Going back to these sex scandals for a moment… Below is a mashup of a telephone interview with Patrizia D’Addario, the prostitute who describes what Berlusconi wanted her to do to his “girlfriend”. The music used on the clip is a song by an English language Italian band Belladonna. The original song after the video.
|» Belladonna – Holy Flame|
– But not everybody has it in for Silvio, there’s another singer Loriana Lana (yes you can click on that link, she keeps her clothes on) and (yes she had dealings with Berlusconi, they co-wrote songs together). Ms Lana sings Berlusconi’s praises in this one:
||» Loriana Lana – Silvio Forever|
And finally… We’ve got to wrap this up so we might as well go back to the beginning. Back to the football. As mentioned Berlusconi has a musical bent and has co-written a number of tunes, including this anthem for his club:
|» Tony Renis – Milan ! Milan !|