Monday, July 10, 2006

Is there a fix on the way?

Very, very disturbing things in the last 24 hours. Things that make you despair that Italy will ever change.

To recap: Juve - and to a lesser extent Lazio, Fiorentina and Milan - have all been shown to be scheming, cheating, match-fixing liars. In a rare moment of honesty, the Italian football federation actually does something about it and threatens to send the lot of them packing to the lower divisions. Honor restored, corruption rooted out of the game, short-term pain/long-term gain, etc.

And then, in quick succession, the following three news items:

1) Juve sell Adrian Mutu for 8 million euros plus a promising young Bulgarian player name Bojinov. No surprise you might think - a Juve fire sale is widely predicted. Except that the team they sold him to was Fiorentina and the player they received is wanted by many European clubs. Why would either Mutu or Bojinov approve the deal if there was any chance they would be plying their trade outside the top division?

2) Juve announce a new head coach to replace Fabio Capello. His name? Didier Deschamps. Yes, that Deschamps. The one who won the World cup, European Cup, Champions League, several scudetti and was a Jose Mourinho away from winning the European Cup as a manager three seasons ago. He says in a press release he agreed to coach Juve if they were relegated to Serie B. But at present, the prosecutors are asking for the team to play in Serie C, not Serie B. So, what does he know that the rest of us don't?

3) The judge in the match-fixing case suddenly announced that his verdict would not be released Monday, but rather "some time later in the week".

All this came just hours after Clemente Mastella echoed the views of many in saying that the four teams should be given amnesty on account of Italy's World Cup victory.

Now stop, and read that again.

It's dumb, isn't it?

Why should these four corruption-ridden clubs be given a break because the national team did well? It's preposterous, right? It would be a travesty! Who is this joker Mastella, anyway?

Brace yourself: he's the country's justice minister (and you naive folks thought that Italian politics might get cleaner after Berlusconi left...). And if he's saying it publicly, then it's odds on that something is happening privately.

I'd really like to be proven wrong, but I think there is a fix. I think that three of the teams will be let off the hook, and that Juve's chances of going down are now only about 50/50. The people who run the game are going to take advanatage of the momentary national eurphoria to rig the trial and keep things the way they are, rather than take the painful but necessary steps to clean up the game. The losers, as always, will be those fans who - ever so briefly - believed that Italy might become a normal, modern country with a reasonably clean national sport.

Italy may have invented the modern look, but it has the mindset and institutional behaviour of a third-world country. It is the world's richest third-world country.

I'd like to be proven wrong about this, because every country deserves clean football and the World Cup Champions even more so, but after the last 24 hours it's hard to be optimistic.

1 Comments:

Blogger schuey said...

very sad but true.

7:50 AM  

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