22 June 2006

Italian football

As Italy take to the pitch in their crucial Group E World Cup match, Italy is holding its breath for another reason. Later today the nation will learn the next installment of the football corruption scandal which has gripped the country for the last month. Centred around Italy's most successful club, Juventus, this investigation could see top players and clubs penalised for match-fixing, referee-planting, illegal betting and who knows what else.

Our sibling websites, Football in Italy and Football in Rome, have long maintained that something was amiss in the world of Serie A. Indeed, almost any Italian would have told you their suspicions of Juventus (typical chant from opposition fans: 'Ladri, ladri' - thieves, thieves). But naive English friends laughed at this 'paranoia'. Now we know it was probably all true. And only the tip of the iceberg. We've seen too many suspect goals and refereeing errors with our own eyes to be surprised, whatever emerges. We're just keeping our fingers crossed for Italy Heaven's favourite team.

A good BBC resume of the scandal so far: Shamed Italian clubs to be named

UPDATE: Now we know: Serie A quartet will stand trial . A genuinely thorough investigation could - if any of the allegations are true - bring down the entire structure of Italian football. And create extra insoluble problems - if the matches were fixed, shouldn't we all be entitled to refunds of our season ticket prices, of merchandise, of television fees and so on? An impossible situation. And the tentacles doubtless spread into other areas of Italian sport, business and politics. We suspect that, as in other corruption cases, a discreet line will be drawn under the matter after a handful of scapegoats have been penalised. We only wish our club wasn't set to be one of the scapegoats.

No comments: