Milan - Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis has stoked the embers from the Serie A side's controversial league defeat to Juventus by suggesting beliefs remain that the Italian champions wield significant influence over match officials.
"Unfortunately, in Italy, (football) is governed by unwritten rules and those in power are always right and granted everything," De Sanctis said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport Thursday.
A first whiff of scandal wafted over this season's Serie A league a fortnight ago after Juventus, Italy's best-supported and most powerful club, dominated a bad-tempered top-of-the-table clash 3-2 in Turin.
One player from each side and Roma coach Rudi Garcia were red carded and Juventus were awarded a dubious penalty before going three points clear of the Giallorossi.
Legendary Roma captain Francesco Totti, who has spent 21 seasons with the capital club, lit the fuse immediately after the game when he suggested the Turin giants routinely benefit from favourable refereeing decisions.
"Juventus should have a championship of their own because they always manage to win," said Totti.
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Although Juventus hit back angrily and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon slammed Totti earlier this week when he said the Roma captain should "learn how to lose", De Sanctis insists Juve, unbeaten at home all of last season in Serie A, are still earning favours.
He insisted that when it comes to facing Juventus, who were stripped of two of their 32 league titles from 2005 and 2006 due to their role in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal, rival clubs are "not playing on an equal footing".
"Totti has 20 years of football behind him and did well to speak out after the match," said De Sanctis.
"You have to know how to lose, but it is hard to accept certain decisions when you have the feeling you're not playing on an equal footing."
Totti's remarks after the November 5 clash brought an immediate and angry response from Juventus officials.
"His bitterness at the defeat is understandable, but what he said is unacceptable," Juventus general manager Beppe Marotta said.
Match referee Gianluca Rocchi fell under the spotlight for seemingly bowing to pressure from Juventus players before awarding the first of two penalties to the Turin side. He also later awarded a penalty to Roma.
His performance in Turin prompted a headline in Gazzetta dello Sport which read: "Rocchi horror picture show", although former referees' chief Paolo Casarin said the 44-year-old was only at fault "once" in the game.
De Sanctis believes that Rocchi bowed to pressure from Juventus players before finally awarding the hosts the game's first penalty.
"The referee goes to the game with five assistants, he doesn't need another five," he said.
"They (Juventus) use moments of indecision like these in a calculated manner."
De Sanctis, who made only a few appearances for Juventus during his two-year spell in 1997-1999, added: "Psychological subjection exists with Juventus you have to make a general assessment: everything they've won in Italy is not proportional to what they've won abroad.
"And that's something that makes you wonder."
De Sanctis suggested this could be his last season with the Giallorossi before a "possible" move to the United States.
Before then, he said fellow goalkeeper Buffon, and other Juventus players, should accept that scrutiny of their unrivalled domestic success over the years is warranted.
"Gigi and I are old, and maybe we're losing our memory. In his career he's had many more successes than disappointments," said De Sanctis.
"The Juve players are wrong to feel persecuted. They're the same as other players and act the same way: the only difference is that in Italy, they often win.
"As they say in Turin, 'Winning isn't important, it's the only thing that counts'. To that, they should add, 'And we don't care how (we win)'."