Friday, 27 July 2012

Calcio Corruption

There is not a whole lot of things that upset me about Italian soccer these days. Sunday mornings are just mainly a time for me to sit and enjoy one of my favourite things on this planet; Calcio. However in recent years the team that I love, and the league that I love the most has been tainted. Yesterday was almost like Calciopoli happened all over again.

Several current Juventus members along with many other people affiliated with Italian football were charged with sporting fraud. While some are alleged to have been indirectly involved with match fixing, others have been implicated with direct involvement. I don't have all of the facts or evidence pertaining to these incidents, and quite frankly I don't care all that much. What I do know is that Juventus boss Antonio Conte along with some of his staff have been charged. While Leonardo Bonucci and Simone Pepe have also been named in the latest scandal to rip through the Italian football leagues. None of these allegations pertain to their time at Juventus, so the club itself has avoided any punishment that may come down through this.

The fact is that most of this junk pertains to the lower divisions (Serie B or lower). Bonucci faces the most punishment with charges of being directly involved whereas Pepe and Conte are alleged to have indirect involvement, in other words they knew it was going on and did nothing about it. While some would say these investigations are helping the problem, and are addressing the need to get it out of the game, I say that when you are dealing with low budget, low level teams this will always be a part of the game. As it stands right now teams cannot survive without it.

It will be a problem in Italy, Spain, England, and wherever else you can think of. The mafia or gangs that are setting all this up have such a stronghold on the situation that this will not stop. There is no coincidence that these incidents are becoming more apparent and happening more frequently during the worst global economy we have experienced in quite some time. It is no secret that Italy along with pretty much every other country in Europe is suffering with finances.

Lower level football is in a really bad place right now. Teams are struggling to afford player wages on a week to week basis and the sport is suffering. The mafia or whomever is organising the fixing of these matches is taking advantage. They are targeting players who may not be receiving their pay cheques on a regular basis and therefore are struggling to pay their bills at home. Owners of teams have succumbed to the pressure as well. It has been said that owners are taking bribes to fix a few matches per season in order to help pay the wages of players.

I imagine it like this "OK boys, we're going to do our best to win as many games as we can but if you want to get paid and get paid on time, we have to lose a match here and there."

What is a player to do? Yeah you have your dignity to keep, but you also have a family to feed and bills to pay at home. Not to mention the repercussions one may face for not co-operating with the Mafiosi. (Which is the main argument Domenico Criscito has pleaded to prosecutors after being investigated just before the recent Euro 2012 tournament.)

If you have read the book 'The Fix' by Declan Hill then you would know this problem way more widespread than just Italy. It even reached the World Cup in 2006 where Ghana lay over to Brazil. Ghanaian captain and former Juventus man Stephen Appiah was mentioned in the book to have direct involvement with the fixing of that match. The gangs who are wanting these matches fixed are not just looking for a win or a loss they want exact scores to play, this maximises their profits as the odds on a team to win 6-0 compared to 1-0 are drastically different.

That 8-2 scoreline between Ghana and Brazil in the round of 16 that year seemed fishy at the time and 'The Fix' only clarified my original thoughts on that game. These Mafiosi take advantage of every situation they can, and it shows in instances such as that one way back in 06. So why is that we never hear about the police going after these men who are known for fixing matches all over the world? Why aren't players being forced to give up the real people who are fixing the matches? The men who are putting the money into it? These are questions I cannot answer, and I will not opine any further because I'm sure most of you have seen a mafia movie or TV show at some point in time.

Now I am not so naive to believe that some players willingly participate in these acts, but the problem is bigger than that, and the only way to solve the problem is getting to the source. If the match fixing is to stop then this is what the investigative journalists need to focus on; not the players not the managers or the teams that are involved, they need to go after the people who are actually running the show in this whole ordeal. Until that happen this is something that will not go away.

Further blog posts to come on this topic. I will discuss how it will affect the Serie A for the coming season once rulings come out on everything that has happened. Right now I just needed to vent.

No comments:

Post a Comment