I don’t know whether many of you will be aware of the latest match-fixing scandal because I don’t know how much coverage it is getting in your press. In England, I found it hidden four or five pages back in the newspaper in a small tucked away column.
When I wrote an article on this site the other day about how much I was looking forward to the coming season I also said that I had no doubt the coming months would contain news of corruption and scandal within the game. When I wrote that, I hoped that it wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t come true and had no idea that a corruption story was about to break in Italy.
We all know about the previous big scandal in Italy back in 2006 when three of the biggest clubs, Lazio, Fiorentina and AC Milan were deducted points for their part in a match-fixing scandal whilst a fourth, Juventus, were relegated from Serie A.
We also know that Porto are banned from next seasonÃ¢â‚¬Ëœs Champions League tournament because of further match-fixing scandals, this time in Portugal. I am still totally amazed that the fact that Porto were found guilty of fixing a match during the season they won the Champions League is one of the most worrying things I have ever heard in football, yet it has received such little coverage in the media.
The manager at the time of the Porto incident was Jose Mourinho and he has now stepped into Serie A with Inter. Mourinho was found to be totally innocent of any wrongdoing in the Porto incident and he has an unblemished character. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m just surprised that none of the conspiracy theorists out there have started to raise some issues and concerns.
The breaking news now is that it seems that five Italian players have been charged over alleged match-fixing of last season’s Serie A fixtures between Atalanta and relegated Livorno. The players have only been charged at this stage and not been found guilty yet. Therefore we should not jump to conclusions.
The charges they face relate to both the home and away fixtures between the two clubs. The games ended in a 1-1 draw on 23 December 2007 and an Atlanta victory 3-2 on the 4th May this year. Both clubs were also reported to the national disciplinary commission over the behaviour of their players.
The charges have been brought against Atalanta’s Gian Paolo Bellini and Livorno’s former captain David Balleri, who have been charged with the actual match-fixing.
The other three players, LivornoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brothers Emanuele and Antonio Filippini and their team-mate Alessandro Grandoni, have been charged with failing to inform the authorities about the events of which they were presumably allegedly aware.
It is noticeable again that this incident is receiving little media coverage, certainly in England. Maybe it is because of the fact that sadly Italian football is no stranger to allegations of match-fixing. Maybe it is because there are many people, like me, whose biggest fear is that this terrible practice isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t confined to the Italian and Portuguese leagues.
It would surely be naÃƒÂ¯ve to believe that all offences are detected and dealt with and that each time it has occurred in football around the world the culprits have been caught and punished. With any doubt whatsoever about the authenticity of any result, the whole ethos of football, as I understand it, is blown apart.
I really canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bear the thought that any games I have watched have been corrupt and the result worked out in advance. That would be a devastating blow to my view of the world.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve re-read the last paragraph and realise that it makes me sound moralistic and Ã¢â‚¬Ëœholier than thouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. I apologise for sounding like that because I am neither of those things. However, I am genuinely worried about how much of this sort of thing actually happens in the game I love.
I suppose in some ways, being an England supporter it would make life easier if I believed that we were deliberately playing so badly because of certain deals that had been made behind the scenes! If people are paid to throw matches then if I was a detective IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d have Steve McClaren as a major suspect! That is not fair to McClaren who is, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure , as honest as the day is long. His failure to manage England to qualification to the Euros was totally down to a lack of ability and nothing to do with money.
Whilst I joke about the subject I am deadly serious in my concern for the game. Any doubt about the outcomes of games and leagues and the football is totally destroyed. Whatever the authorities need to do to rid the game of this worrying and divisive trend, football fans around the world should support them in doing so.
With the massive amount of money in the game that there is now it was inevitable that some of the less pleasant elements of our society would want to get a piece of the action. Decent football people must do everything we can to make sure that they get no further than they have already got.
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