Are Italians soccer cheats?
Just days after Juventus Turin were declared league winners of Italy, Antonio Conte was called in for questioning over match fixing by the Italian police.
Almost simultaneously, Italian national defender Domenico Criscito was spoken to by Italian police in their investigation into match fixing. They descended on the Italian national team's training camp to question Criscito. Criscito plays at Zenit St Petersburg and is said to be just a part of a wide –ranging inquest into a new match-fixing scandal.
Lazio of Rome, who have had a relatively good season, had captain Stefano Mauri and Omar Milanetto of Genoa arrested also for match-related suspicions.
In total, 19 people have been arrested in relation to the latest match fixing claims; 11 of these are top flight, first division, Serie 'A' players.
This is beginning to sound like déjà vu and we cannot help but ask, are Italians cheats or victims of their past?
For those who are unaware, just six years ago the then Juventus general manager, Moggi, was reportedly caught on record, via a recorded telephone 'negotiation', trying to influence the ‘proceedings’ of a game involving Juventus.
The end result was a condemnation of Moggi, Juventus and AC Milan, among several other teams; relegation of Juventus to the second division; deduction of points from other teams involved; bans for Moggi and several other actors and the stripping of two league titles from Juventus and Coronation of Inter Milan.
Last year 17 people were arrested in a similar scenario. The then Atalanta captain, Cristiano Doni, was subsequently banned for three years.
Prior to this, the Italian giants, Juventus of Turin, had been suspected and condemned for ‘suspected’ drug use to enhance the performance of their players and this led to the club’s doctor being banned, I believe for life, from football.
This cast doubts on the capabilities and past achievements of Juventus Turin and the Italians soccer clubs, national teams and their players to an unprecedented magnitude.
Guess what happened next? The Italians summoned themselves up and in an impressive manner, deservedly beat the world to become World Cup champions 2006 in Germany; emphatically beating favourites and hosts Germany and France on their way to being crowned.
Their captain and Defender, Fabio Cannavaro, was unanimously voted tournament and world player of the year 2006. It was the first time in history that a defender won this prestigious accolade.
Here we are again, days before the kick-off of another major football tournament, the European Nations championships 2012 in Ukraine and Poland. The Italians are full of new match-fixing allegations. Are they guilty, victims of their past or going to be crowned champions again?
This looks like a Hollywood movie. Only time will tell if reality will look anything like fiction.