Football, whether you love it or loathe it, is now a huge global business. It stands to reason, then, that the temptations on the part of some folk to bend the rules to make themselves rich are considerable. There are currently extremely serious allegations surrounding a number of big-name Italian clubs, including AC Milan and Juventus, to the effect that officials and others collaborated to fix games. And all this while the game’s main showcase, the World Cup, is going on.
And then there is this story today:
Juventus team manager and former defender Gianluca Pessotto has been seriously injured after falling from a building at the club’s headquarters.
“Gianluca suffered multiple fractures, but his life is not in danger,” said Juventus spokesman Marco Girotto. It is unclear where exactly the 35-year-old fell from – early reports suggested he had fallen out of a second-floor window, but now it seems he may have fallen from the roof of the building. Club officials said they were unable to give details and were looking into all possibilities.
Oh I bet they are. Consider the final paragraph of the story:
Juventus are currently facing charges relating to the massive match-fixing scandal rocking Italy. The scandal began last month with the publication of intecepted telephone conversations between former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi and Italian Football Federation officials discussing refereeing appointments.
Italian clubs are now a major part of the corporate structure of that country. Questions about the trustworthiness of Italian corporate leaders have already been stirred by the scandal of collapsed food group Parmalat, a scandal that was a European equivalent of Enron or the Fannie Mae debacles.
Football needs trust to survive. The antics of players who writhe in fake agony after being tackled in a bid to get an opposing player sent off, or who fall over in the penalty area to get a goal (Italy arguably did this in the match yesterday against Australia) are part of a cancer eating at the game. I can put up with the antics of footballers off the pitch and I do not get upset at their huge salaries – they operate in a market after all – but without trust, without a sense that the players concerned are giving their all to win, then the game is in grave danger. Similar scandals have besmirched cricket and remain a shadow over horse racing. I hope the Italian authorities prosecute any guilty folk severely. If found guilty, some of the clubs could be relegated from the top-flight league and forced to sell some of their star players, presumably at a loss (I wonder if Ipswich Town can afford any of them?).
What a mess.