Italy’s Berlusconi under fire for promising Monza players ‘busload of hookers’

Italian senator and Monza football club owner Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday promised players a "busload" of prostitutes if they win upcoming Serie A matches, drawing fierce criticism from female MPs.

Italy's Berlusconi under fire for promising Monza players 'busload of hookers'
Silvio Berlusconi made the "misogynistic" and "vulgar" comments at a dinner held by the football club he owns, Monza. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

Speaking at a Christmas dinner on Tuesday night in front of sponsors and a players’ delegation, scandal-plagued former Italian prime minister Berlusconi said that he wanted to give his players “extra encouragement” ahead of the second half of the Serie A season which begins on January 4th.

“I told them that coming up we have Juventus, Milan, etc. and that if they manage to beat one of those great teams I’ll send a busload of whores to the dressing room,” Berlusconi said in a speech which was greeted with laughter in the room and later widely shared on social media.

The 86-year-old tycoon was recently re-elected as a senator in the Italian parliament after a nine-year absence due to a tax fraud conviction.

On Wednesday, Five Star Movement Emma Pavanelli asked in parliament what Giorgia Meloni, the country’s first woman prime minister and an ally of Berlusconi, thought of “those shameful words”.

READ ALSO: Italian prosecutors seek six-year jail term for Berlusconi in ‘Ruby ter’ trial

Former president of the parliament’s lower house and current MP Laura Boldrini blasted “vulgar sexism passed off as banter”.

“Obscene comments, made even more despicable by the fact they were uttered by a senator of the republic and a party leader,” Boldrini said on Twitter.

Daniela Sbrollini, a female senator from the centrist Italia Viva party, called it the “usual misogynist language from Berlusconi: a joke in bad taste that leaves you speechless”.

Berlusconi is still widely associated in Italy and abroad with the ‘Rubygate’ sex parties he organised with young women, some of which were found to be minors.

He was acquitted of underage prostitution charges but remains on trial for witness tampering in that case.

Berlusconi bought Monza football club in 2018 for a reported three millions euros.

Monza declined to comment on Berlusconi’s speech when contacted by AFP.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Flat tax for all? Italy announces plan to overhaul tax system

The Italian government on Thursday night approved changes to the tax system as it moves ahead with plans for a ‘flat tax’ for all employees by 2027.

Flat tax for all? Italy announces plan to overhaul tax system

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s cabinet on Thursday night announced it had formally approved long-discussed plans to overhaul the tax system, though few details were immediately confirmed.

The reforms will “structurally revolutionise Italian tax system”, which has been in place in its current form since the 1970s, the government said in a statement.

KEY POINTS: The tax changes in Italy to know about in 2023

The initial plans will come into effect over two years, the government said, and will initially reduce the number of income tax (Irpef) brackets from four to three, with the ultimate goal of a single tax rate for everyone by 2027 – when the current government’s term in office is set to end.

The so-called flat tax was one of the flagship promises made by Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party and its coalition partners in September’s general elections.

The tax reform aims to “reduce the tax burden, create a relationship of trust between the tax authorities and taxpayers, and encourage growth and employment according to the principle of ‘the more you hire, the less tax you pay'”, Meloni said in a tweet on Thursday following the budget approval.

The government’s first budget at the end of 2022 extended an existing ‘flat tax’ rate of 15 percent for self-employed workers from those earning up to 60,000 euros a year up to a maximum of 85,000.

Under the latest reforms, the lowest income tax rate for employees is expected to remain unchanged at 23 percent (for those earning 15,000 euros a year or less).

The reforms are expected to set the three bands at 23 percent, 33 percent and 43 percent initially, and government officials have said that a more costly option under consideration would lower the second band to 27 percent.

No further details were immediately given on Thursday, and the draft outline approved by Italy’s cabinet still needs the green light from parliament and then implementation by the finance ministry.

Trade unions heavily criticised the plan, which they said went “against workers”, and others questioned how the heavily indebted Italian state can pay for it all.

“We do not agree either with the reduction in tax rates, which favours the rich, or a flat tax, which is against the idea of progressive” taxation, said Maurizio Landini, general secretary of the Cgil union.

Meloni’s government also plans to cut corporation tax from the current rate of 24 percent to 15 for companies that create jobs and make investments in “innovation”.

Carlo Bonomi, head of the main business organisation Confindustria, said on Monday he was waiting to see the details but said the reform was “going in the right direction”.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

The government had also discussed lowering tax on essential household goods under the reforms, but no further updates came on Thursday.

The government said it plans to close tax loopholes and slash many of the existing 600 possible tax deductions as well as state-funded tax ‘bonuses’ to fund the reforms, which have not yet been costed.

In its post-pandemic recovery plan, Italy pledged to crack down on tax evastion and close the so-called tax gap – the difference between potential tax revenues and the amount actually raised – in order to recoup around 7-8 billion euros more in 2024 compared with 2019.

Italy’s chronic problem with tax evasion costs the state some 90 billion euros a year, according to the most recent finance ministry data.