Match fixing in Italy awakens from its cat nap

Another dark day for Italian football with the arrest of 19 people including Lazio skipper, Stefano Mauri on suspicion of match fixing.

Also under investigation is Antonio Conte, coach of champions Juventus, and Domenico Criscito, who has been forced to withdraw from Italy’s Euro 2012 squad as a result of the probe.

Siena president Massimo Mezzaroma is another to have been placed under investigation.

“The searches are connected to what’s happening with Siena,” said Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino. “There are seven, eight games being looked at and there have been statements that make us think they were manipulated. The searches involved players, coaches and directors of the club, including Conte and Mezzaroma.”

Di Martino said said the search of the national squad’s training camp concerned just one player

“We shouldn’t place too much emphasis on the blitz at Coverciano, it is a problem that concerns only Criscito and not other players in the national team at the moment,” he said.

Criscito insists he has done nothing wrong and has promised to prove his innocence.

“I want to be heard in Cremona as soon as possible in order to clarify everything,” he told Il Corriere dello Sport.

“I have not got anything to do with this story. I was only speaking with Genoa supporters.”

The arrests carry depressing echoes of the 2005-06 Calciopoli scandal, which ultimately resulted in the demotion of Juventus to Serie B and points deductions to Milan and Fiorentina. Every cloud though…Italy went on that summer to win the World Cup.

Hooligan outbreak

Two people were being treated for gunshot wounds after a shooting that claimed the life of a 21-year-old member of a gang of Argentine football hooligans.

The shooting occurred in Buenos Aires outside a stadium before the first division match between Lanus and All Boys.

“It’s sad what’s happening with football in Argentina,” Lanus coach Gabriel Schurrer told reporters. “If one really wanted to get rid of the violence, it could be done. English football was more violent, and they did it. If England and other countries can get rid of it, I don’t understand why it can’t be done here.”

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of Heysel so before we get carried away lauding the success of the English model, let’s not forget how big a price was paid before British authorities set about combatting football hooliganism. Nonetheless, a start could be made in Argentina if the clubs had the courage to sever their ties with the hooligan gangs. At present, a symbiotic relationship exists between clubs and their hardcore followers. The fan groups receive perks while in exchange club officials receive muscle at political meeting or Trade Union events.

Z Factor

There was a bizarre football/pop crossover moment at the weekend, when Argentine football legend Javier Zanetti, took to the stage to sing live on Indonesian Idol.

Zanetti appeared alongside teammate Angelo Palombo as part of an Inter charm offensive, before stepping up to murder Eros Ramazzotti’s ‘Più bella cosa’.


Quote of the day

“Stay at home, watch it on TV. Don’t even risk it … because you could end up coming back in a coffin.”

Speaking on a Panorama programme, to be screened on BBC 1 on Monday night, former England defender Sol Campbell issues a chilling warning to England fans travelling to Ukraine.

Goal of the day

A weekend of internationals featured a number of great goals, not least this stunning long raneg half-volley from Michael Bradley in the USA’s eyecatching 5-1 win over Scotland.

Sing when you’re winning

Serbia’s football association says midfielder Adem Ljajic has been suspended from the Serbian national team for failing to sing the nationalist anthem before a friendly against Spain.

Hardly the most heinous of crimes, but if you put Sinisa Mihajlovic in charge of your national team, you’re just going to have to get used to this kind of thing.

The association said Mihajlovic “sent Ljajic home” because he did not comply with his rules that stipulate players have to sing the anthem before matches.

“Ljajic has told Mihajlovic he refused to sing the national anthem out of personal beliefs and that there would be no change in his position regarding the matter.”

It’s not been a good month for Ljajic; it was he who was cuffed around the head by Fiorentina coach Delio Rossi, as he returned to the bench after being substituted in a Serie A game.

Robben back in favour

Persona non grata at his club, Bayern Munich after missing the penalty that might have won the Bavarian club the Champions League, Dutch winger Arjen Robben found a more sympathetic audience back on home soil.

Holland fans took to cheering Robben during the 2-1 home defeat to Bulgaria.

“I want to thank the fans for such a warm welcome,” said a relieved Robben. “It gives you such a good feeling to be welcomed like this by your own fans.

“What is gone is gone. Now I am with Holland and the focus is on the European Championships.

“I have never had a week like it. To be booed by your own fans is bizarre and that is not easy.

“But that is football. Sometimes you are the villain, sometimes you are the hero. I am a strong person and can deal with it.”

Gordon Ramsay’s football nightmare

During his ascent up the culinary ladder, Gordon Ramsay has made great play of the fact that he could have been a contender at Rangers. On Sunday he got a taste of what might have been when he represented a Rest of the World side against an England XI in the annual Socceraid charity game.

Teddy Sheringham can forget about dining at any of Ramsay’s restaurants for the foreseeable future, after he clattered into the chef during last night’s kickabout. The most striking feature of the incident is the complete lack of remorse displayed by Sheringham.

On behalf of harassed kitchen staff everywhere, here’s Ramsay being ‘reduced’.

FIFA appoint war criminal investigator

If you’re going to get to the bottom of the byzantine levels of corruption rife within the corridors of FIFA, then who better to turn than to a man who pursues war criminals for a living.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, has been nominated as chief investigator at football’s governing body, Mark Pieth the head of FIFA’s governance committee told Reuters.

Moreno-Ocampo has been nominated to head the investigations side, according to Pieth, who heads a 13-member panel created last year to oversee changes in the way Swiss-based FIFA is run.

“The fact that Luis is on the list shows just how serious we are,” he told Reuters.


Another day, another three deaths from football-related violence. This time in Indonesia where three football fans, were found dead during an Indonesia Super League match between Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung.

A spokesman for the police said a 29-year-old was found dead at the car park of the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, two others were found dead near the Senayan basketball court at 8.45pm and another injured man was also found at the same spot.

Police are investigating the incident to determine whether the brawl was between fans from rival clubs or merely involved members of the public.