Is the latest Italian scandal evidence of big business’s unavailing grip on football?

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In the beginning of the week the football world was shocked by yet another match fixing scandal in Calcio, the Italian football Serie A and B. Many suspects were arrested and searches were conducted in many houses and businesses including the house of Juventus coach, Antonio Conte. Also, Lazio Roma captain Stefano Mauri was arrested and Domenico Criscito, an international player for Italia was heared about this case.

This is not the first time Italian football is involved in these scandals. On the good side, Italian justice is speedy in its decisions and already deliberated that Atalanta will start next season’s league with 2 points deducted related to the scandal. Declan Hill, as written an astonishing book about the match fixing and betting scandals. He risked his life to bring to light the most hedious face of our favorite sport.

Whenever I see this type of news on the media I always remember a film called Rollerball, staring LL Cool J and Chris Klein, where the world is dominated by corporations and the sport, somekind of roller skating with lots of violence and deaths, is increasing in popularity in Central Asia, China, Russia and Turkey – do these countries ring a bell to you?

As i was saying, the team owners are always on the lookout for ways to increase their immense wealth and improve audiences so they start fixing games and hiring stars from other leagues in order to improve the sports popularity among its fans. When i look at today’s English Premier League and Spanish La Liga, things are starting to look a bit like that scenario. Insanely wealthy owners are pouring insane amounts of money into their football pets. This is killing all the beauty of the game. We are seeing that the winners are those with more money and not those with good managerial skills. Only a truly incompetent manager can afford not to win with the best players in the park. It’s true that a farm full of stars doesn’t guarantee immediate success, but it sure helps a lot.

Uefa is bringing in the Financial Fair Play regulations starting next season. But with owners like Roman Abramovich, The Glazer Family, Mansour bin Zayed al Nayhan I think there will be more Financial (Un)Fair Play from these clubs. I think that we should follow the MSL example and set a limit for wages being paid to the players. I do not oppose the astronomical sums of money each player gets, I just think they should be evenly distributed among all the other players.


On the other side there are clubs that do not need these trillionaires to survive and make great teams. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Bayern München are just some of the teams that reached the final of the Uefa Champions League without a sugar daddy behind them.

Unfortunately, they need to get their cash on hand from other sources. In the last season we saw the novelty in Spanish La Liga of Real Madrid playing on a Sunday morning so that the match could be transmitted live to the Asian Continent. Today we were surprised by the announcement that the next Spanish Supercup between Real Madrid and Barcelona will be played in China.

Wait… In China? What the hell are they thinking? After the Euro 2012 and the Olympic Games where many of their international players will be involved, they start the season with such a gigantic clash in China? Why not in the moon? Or Mars?

After an always tiring pre-season which will be inevitably impaired by the needed resting periods of the players involved in the above mentioned competitions, both teams endeavour on such a long journey to play a single match for their Asian fans? I do not intend to lessen the importance of the Asian fans, but is their economical importance big enough to justify a match played in Asia? The end does not always justify the means. Where are we heading? This is not the football i used to know anymore.

I grew up admiring players like Cantona, Kanchelskis, Peter Beardsley, Fernando Redondo, Hristo Stoichkov, Gica Popescu, Hagi, Roberto Baggio, Ian Rush, Andy Cole, Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand, Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Ray Parlour, David Seaman, Bruce Grobelaar… Where are they now? Football should be for the players, not for the business owners that never touched a football.

Bruno Miguel Espalha is the Author of Objective Barcelona : How To Beat The Most Powerful Team In The World which can be found in is website Objective Barcelona and on

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