By Walter Broeckx
After the former articles about Calciopoli I want to use this one to give a kind of resumé about what cheating is happening or could be happening, taking Italy as the model.
As you will have seen the cheating was not that much that the ref appointers phoned a ref and told him: Team A must win this game. No it is all done in a much more subtle way. And in fact this is what I have heard and have been told by people who were there at the time.
Each country has its own football pyramid. And we all want to be on top of that pyramid. As that is where the reward is the biggest. This is pure human nature one could say. And we all know that when people smell money they can become bad persons. It takes strong character and a strong person to refuse personal gain. And not all people can resist it. That is a fact. And I think this is a fact that we should accept but also fight against it.
We should accept that it exists and then we should fight it. We can’t change human nature. But we can change the conditions and make sure that the situation doesn’t arise. I know this is extremely difficult. But impossible is nothing. If we really want the football world to be fair we should look at all possibilities and try to exclude any bad goings on as much as possible.
Now if we look at the Calciopoli scandal we see that the system was in place well before it became visible. How long? Well we don’t know for sure as the people who did it were not really happy to say: oh, but we have been doing that for more than 10 years. No, they shut up about it and so it looks as if it just started in the 2003-2004 season.
What do you need to arrange such a Calciopoli event? First of all you need someone at a big club with a lot of influence in the football world. That person must have good friends in some high and strategically important places. Those places are not just his own club of course but also the FA of that country and most of all the person or people who appoint the refs. And then finally it helps when the media who have the rights to broadcast the league has to be on your side.
I think those are the 4 things you need to arrange a Calciopoli. In Italy Moggi was a big man in his club Juventus being the General Manager. And he had important friends in the Italian Football Federation. And most importantly he had good friends in the persons who appointed the refs in Italy. And then to round it up he also almost decided what they would show on TV and who would be the guest in the studio to talk about decisions.
So now the question we could ask ourselves is: could this situation exist in the PL? So we could ask ourselves : is there a club in the PL that would or could tick all those boxes? Well if there is one club that doesn’t fit the boxes it is Arsenal. That is one thing that is for sure.
Until this season we had nobody in high places at the FA for many many years. The man who appoints the refs is and I use this lightly not really known for his love for Arsenal. The media has specialised in ridiculing our manager and on the rare occasions we get a debatable decision our way the replays are highlighted and highlighted till even the blind man has seen them. So it is fair to say Arsenal tick not even one of the required boxes.
Now if you would ask me if there could be a hypothetical “Juventus” club in the PL, I can only come up with one team. Their manager is powerful and has lots of influence. They have and had and will have important persons from the club in the FA. The person who appoints the refs is widely regarded as being very kind to them. And the leading media outlets are on their side.
Now I’m not saying that MU is arranging a Calciopoli-type event in the PL. But they are a team that ticks all the “Juventus boxes” one could say. They are the team that could arrange such a thing. I don’t say they do, as to know this I should be able to do phone taps and as I am not a member of the police or a judge, this is something that is beyond me.
So how can you find signals that point at a “Calciopoli” in a league?
First of all you know that the refs “follow the leading team”. It is rather natural and part of human nature that MU has lots of fans – and historically they have fans all over the country. And so statistically speaking it would be normal that most refs have some kind of supportive feelings for the leading club, and in the PL this is Manchester United. So from a certain point it could be even just natural that most refs could give a 50/50 call to Manchester United. By accident this seems to be the case.
What we also had in the Calciopoli case is that the person (in Italy it was 2 persons) who were responsible for appointing the refs were Juventus-friendly. The appointment of the refs is one of the most important matters. In England we only have one person to do this. And this person is considered by some as MU-friendly.
This person is also the person who can directly have an influence on the career of each ref. A referee who has made a mistake against a certain team and then isn’t appointed to such team for almost a year is something that might point at Calciopoli. I remember reading in one of the tapped conversations Moggi saying that they don’t want a certain ref again in the near future. Something we have heard and seen also in some cases in the PL. Even when the ref did nothing wrong in a game that ended bad for the “Juventus-team”.
So in England we have a person who appoints the refs who is considered by some to be MU-friendly. And he is the one who decides who referees which match. So the refs might be subconsciously aware of that and so subconsciously they might give the benefit of the doubt to one club rather than another. And as they have seen that doing this can be beneficial for their career (the person who appoints their games would be living proof) so they could subconsciously try to copy that behaviour.
Now I know this is all hypothetical and I don’t say it is all happening that way but I just point at similarities in the situation of Juventus and the Calciopoli scandal in Italy and some things that look rather familiar with that situation in the PL.
For those saying: prove it. I can only say that to prove this you need unbiased judges who are not afraid to start and long investigation. Even in Italy the first investigation was stopped (because of the local club being part of it?) and it needed judges from the south to stop the cheating that was blatantly visible for most observers but was laughed away by the cheaters. But we now know who had the last laugh.
Of course all could be fine and well in the PL and the PGMOL. And maybe all that secrecy is just pure coincidence. But I see too many chances and too many similarities that could open the door to wrong doing. And admitting that there could be a chance of wrong doing is the first little step. Doing all they can, and doing it in the open, showing the public how they work, and giving further information to the supporters about the processes would help. Making the reviews the ref gets from the match assessors would be a second little step.
The bottom line is that I cannot prove there is a calciopoli in the PL. But the similarity in the situation between Italy in those days and how the PL and the PGMOL is working is a striking one to me at least, if no one else.
I would love to be proven wrong. But that is up to the FA, the PL and the PGMOL to prove me wrong. And to be honest… I don’t see them do anything at all.
- Deducting points, a coin throwing player, and premeditated crime by a corrupt system
- Match Review: Howard Webb – West Bromwich Albion Vs Arsenal (1 – 2) [06/04/2013]
- Calciopoli – Can corruption happen in the PL? – Part 3