More than half of the triumphant Italian World Cup squad could find themselves consigned to the unglamorous lower divisions of the domestic soccer league when the verdicts in a match-fixing trial are published.
Italian players will have a day or two to celebrate winning the World Cup in Berlin before the verdicts tomorrow.
The teams represented by 13 of Italy's squad, congratulated as national heroes after their tense 5-3 victory over France in a penalty shootout in Berlin, are facing demotion.
Prosecutors in the sports trial are seeking demotion for domestic champions Juventus to Serie C - the third division - or lower; and for Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio to be relegated to Serie B. It is also seeking to strip Juventus, the club at the centre of the scandal, of the league titles it won in the past two seasons.
"It is not going to go away," said Alfonso Franco, a 20-year-old fan. "We have to deal with this scandal, whether or not we won the World Cup."
But some believe the probe that is ripping apart the national sport back home helped inspire the players in Germany and propelled the team to victory.
"Beautiful and imperfect. Heroic and fearful: we are soccer," read a commentary in Milan daily Corriere della Sera.
Nicola Porro, a sports sociologist who teaches at the University of Cassino said: "There is no doubt that this was a team that found strength in a tactic of resistance."
"If the scandal hadn't happened I don't think we would have won the World Cup," Italy's midfielder Gennaro Gattuso said. "It has given us more strength."
But for at least one day, Italians everywhere decided to ignore the ugliness. The Azzurri were scheduled to fly back home to a heroes' welcome, including meeting with Premier Romano Prodi at his office and parading through Rome's historic centre on open buses.
"Italy of champions," was the banner headline across Corriere della Sera.
"It's all true! World champions" headlined the front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Joyous fans celebrated throughout the country well into the morning, hitting the streets in droves, waving flags, setting off fireworks and stripping down to their underwear and jumping into fountains.
In Rome, people climbed into and up the historic Trevi fountain,screaming, waving flags and mocking the French. Some clashed with police at a central square near the French embassy.
"It doesn't matter, we won, that's it," said Federica D'Acuti, aged 26, who was celebrating Italy's victory near Rome's Colosseum. "We showed that we're not just all about scandal in Italy. We showed that we're strong."