Serie A - PM suggests suspending football

Tue, 29 May 18:58:00 2012

Italian professional football should be halted for two or three years to get over the match-fixing scandal which has spattered its image, Prime Minister Mario Monti said, although some of those involved in the game called the idea "rubbish".

Mario Monti - 0

The Italian football federation and several clubs rejected the idea, which is Monti's personal opinion and is not binding.

The widening scandal has seen a number of top players arrested, the coach of this season's title-winning club placed under investigation and the national team training headquarters raided by police.

"It's particularly sad when a world which should be an expression of the highest values - sport, youth, competition, fairness - turns out to be a mass of foul play, falsehood and demagoguery," Monti said at a news conference with visiting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

"This isn't a government proposal, but I wonder if it wouldn't be a good idea to suspend the game for two or three years."

The idea is unlikely to gain much traction in Italy, a country which is both obsessed by football and inured to an apparently endless series of financial, political and sexual scandals in recent years.

"I understand and share the bitterness of Prime Minister Monti," Italian federation president Giancarlo Abete said in a statement.

"..but to stop the championship would mean humiliating all of football, penalising the majority who work honestly and it would also mean the loss of thousands of jobs. It is not the solution."

Monti's suggestion underscores the growing disgust over an affair which has shone a harsh light on the pervasive corruption at many levels of Italian society.

"It's so easy for the great majority of citizens to see the origin of all Italy's problems in politics," Monti said. "It's a big mistake."

In the latest phase of an operation which began last year, police placed Antonio Conte, coach of championship-winning Juventus, under investigation on Monday over allegations relating to a 2011 match between previous club Siena and Novara.

They also arrested Stefano Mauri, captain of Lazio - one of the two big clubs in Rome, and raided the Italian national team's training base at Coverciano after placing Italy defender Domenico Criscito under investigation.

Criscito was then dropped from the squad for the upcoming European Championship.

The scandal echoes earlier match-fixing affairs in 1980 and 2006, further tarnishing the image of Italian football which has long lost the pre-eminent position in the European game it enjoyed during the 1990s.

With less than two weeks before the start of Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, Italian fans may draw comfort from the fact that previous scandals preceded Italy's victories in the 1982 and 2006 World Cups.

Prosecutors believe an international gambling ring paid players to throw matches deliberately. Dozens of current and former players in teams ranging from the Serie A top division down to the lower leagues may have been involved.

However, reaction from clubs has been largely defensive and the head of one Serie A club said Monti was "talking rubbish".

"Before saying we need to stop playing football he should think about his own problems and everything he is destroying and closing down with his laws," said Maurizio Zamparini, president of Palermo.

"Monti is showing his ignorance because professional football clubs pay 800 million euros to the state every year."

The scandal comes at a time when Italian clubs, like many others in Europe, are struggling to make ends meet while paying astronomical salaries to their top players.

According to a report in business daily Il Sole 24 Ore on Tuesday, losses at Italian clubs totalled 428 million euros during the 2010/11 season.

Reuters

Comment 1 - 11 of 11

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  1. Shortcut: get rid of the teams who does the match­ fixing, like Juventus!

    From mehdi, on Thu 31 May 19:08
  2. So if Italy making to the upcoming finals of the Euros,­ we can expect the PM nto not personally attend with all­ the dignitaries??? I dont think so....bet he will be­ the first on that plan....what a hypocrite!! shame

    From Michael, on Thu 31 May 14:42
  3. they have been bribing refs and other teams for decades­ its part of life in italy

    From Tony, on Wed 30 May 18:04
  4. come on! that will put italian football ten years­ behind the rest of europe!!!

    From leon, on Wed 30 May 15:36
  5. And while they're at it, close all the schools in­ Italy because of the 0.01% bullying problem.

    From Fergal, on Wed 30 May 14:43
  6. any one would think ther was some sort of crime­ organisation, something like a mafia at work here ?­ hold on a minute !

    From Chris, on Wed 30 May 14:05
  7. What a stupid idiot and bigot is "M"

    From EVANDRO, on Tue 29 May 19:48
  8. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    That's a good idea! Or simply ban both italian­ clubs and national team from international competitions

    From Vítor, on Tue 29 May 16:43
  9. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    @Mario Monti (aka Goldman Sachs muppet) lol lo­ l"This isn't a government proposal, but I­ wonder if it wouldn't be a good idea to suspend the­ game for two or three years." Yeah right, bet­ you just receive an order from your jew bosses you jew­ mercenary !!

    From M, on Tue 29 May 15:08
  10. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    This Mr Goldman Sachs banker is giving another money­ sucking opinion. Jewish bankers put him in position of­ Italian President to accomplish their goal of­ destroying whatever left from Italian economy. and now­ this guy along with another Jew mercenary Giancarlo­ Abete are axing the roots of football in Italy. No­ wonder why Italy has many problems, coz there's no­ Italian in position but jew mercenaries !!!

    From M, on Tue 29 May 15:05
  11. Not a bad idea all round football is no longer a sport­ it is a money making racket, Take it back to amature­ status take the ridiculous sums of money out and bring­ back the true game. It's a sport How about the­ Gerrard tackle ah ha ha he was told in euro he would­ have been carded for it why he got the ball first he­ didn't dive or lunge in good god anyone remember­ seeing either the match or film of it when Nat­ Lofthouse scored the winning FA Cup final goal by­ knocking the keeper into the net. He'd be banned­ for the season now. Perhaps we should just make it a­ total no contact game nowadays it has gone beyond a­ damned joke now and then all the play acting rolling­ around demanding someone be sent of etc. Take the big­ money out make it a sport again YES the Italian has a­ good idea

    From nick, on Tue 29 May 14:55
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