AN ITALIAN JUDGE has revealed that Mafia clans have been sending messages to their imprisoned dons – by sending text messages to a popular TV football show which aired them through an on-screen ticker.
Crime bosses were kept in the loop regarding their mobs’ outside affairs by cryptic texts sent to the magazine show ‘Quelli Chi Il Calcio’ (‘Those Who Football’), which were then relayed at the bottom of the screen for the jailed godfathers to read.
The scheme came to light after a letter to one of the jailed dons, in which he was advised to watch the show for a communique from his fellow mobsters, was intercepted and handed over to a boss.
The letter was handed over to a magistrate who cited a text reading, ‘Everything is OK – Paolo’ as an example of a cryptic message intended for mafia readership.
The show’s presenter, Simona Ventura, said she and the show’s producers had no idea about the ruse and that the show would stop airing texts immediately.
The show has always had universal appeal, from the young, to graduates, to the old, and now, I discover, mob bosses and their families too.
Jailed mobsters are ideally meant to have few perks in Italy’s tough prisons, leading politicians to ask why mafia leaders are allowed to watch the show. Prisoners have previously been found smuggling messages by stuffing them in the pockets of children as they hugged them, or by sending and receiving apparently innocent cards to family members for birthdays and anniversaries.
Before now, the show was best known in this part of the world for hosting a performance by rock band Muse in which the members switched instruments, in protest at being forced to mime along to their song ‘Uprising’.