Evidence has recently surfaced which suggests that Italian football has secretly been placed on the market and is available to manipulation, with individual players being approached by influential cliques who offer financial incentives in return for match fixtures. Recent developments and arrests have cast doubts over the sincerity and credibility of Italian football and have consequently tarnished the reputation of European football, which is internationally distinguished for being a respectable and sincere institution.
In June of 2011, Atalanta’s captain and Italy midfielder Cristiano Doni was banned from football for three and a half years for engaging in fraudulent, max fixing activities. In the latest developments to cast a shadow over Italian football, Italian prosecutors have started an investigation to determine whether or not anymore matches were subject to manipulation after the arrest of Atalanta’s defender Andrea Masiello.
Masiello was detained by police on suspicion of fixing several Bari matches during his time at the club from 2008-2011. Masiello confessed to being offered and accepting a bribe of at least €50,000 to score an own goal in order to ensure that Bari lost their match against Lecce. In a written confession to the Bari prosecutors, it is alleged that Masiello’s confessions declared that: “I want to add that when the result was 1-0 to Lecce, I took advantage of an opportunity that was given to me so that I could definitely secure Bari’s defeat and so I could get the payment promised to me, thus scoring the own goal which sealed the match.”
Investigators have now ensued on a mission to look into accusations that five other Bari matches were subject to such fixes. These include matches against Genoa, Udinese, Bologna, Lecce, and Cesena. To add fuel to the fire, eight of Masiello’s other team members are also being investigated in connection with accepting bribes in order to endure that matches had a certain outcome that worked in favour of the donors.
The Italian football industry has been without hesitance in issuing statements condemning the actions of those individuals who are suspected of being involved in fraudulent activities. They have strongly stated that sanctions should be placed quickly and without hesitation against those players that are found guilty of fixing matches. Masiello’s recent confession about the part that he played in the match fixing has placed considerable doubts over his long term future in football.
Reports suggest that the motives behind accepting the financial incentives to manipulate the outcome of the matches was partly due to internal speculation within the club that players would not be paid for their services because the club was amidst some financial difficulty; thus compelling the players to take drastic measures. Such accusations are in no doubt going to have repercussions upon the credibility of European football as its sincerity will be placed under considerable doubt.
It is hard to imagine that a game that is so revered throughout the world, where football players are icons and are paid such grandiose wages, could be subject to the sleazy world of match fixing and criminality. Is it possible that the reality we are sold through our television screens and gargantuan advertising boards is merely a facade and that a grim reality festers in the world of football?