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The morality of football…

These days, when a ref makes a dubious decision, the inclination of most people is to blame the ref’s ability.  The suggestion is that referees today are simply not able to keep up with the speed of the game.

What most commentators don’t suggest is that the ref might have been bought.

In Italy of course it is quite different, because there we have recently seen Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina implicated in ref bribing.

Yet I find it curious that when we see so many odd decisions, not just in Arsenal games, but in other matches as well, that the notion that a ref has been bribed is not raised.

Of course there are legal issues here, and there is a major interest for gambling (which is much more strictly regulated in Italy than here.  Indeed it took a European Court of Justice ruling to show insist that the Italian government could not bar gambling companies from other EU states from doing business with Italians.  (Just go to Slovenia, where there are casinos everywhere, and you’ll find them packed with Italians).

So perhaps it is easier for Italians to contemplate fixed football matches than it is for English supporters.

Of course there used to be open discussion of fixed matches in England – and 100 years ago Manchester United and Liverpool were seriously implicated in such issues, although the Football League worked hard to keep it quiet (ultimately to Arsenal’s benefit, as it allowed us back into division 1 after the first world war.)

But I just don’t believe that highly trained referees can get individual decisions so clearly wrong, just on the grounds of seeing it differently from everyone else.

Of course, I have no proof.  I am merely an observer.  I look at games, and I read the details of what happened in Italy and think… what is it that has stopped anyone even suggesting something might be amiss here?

There are legal issues naturally, and the Italian system of corruption was uncovered by getting hold of the phone taps.  Phone tapping is not impossible in the UK, but harder to do – we have a greater sensitivity to human rights and personal freedom.  And maybe that’s the trade off.   We have a personal liberty, which is wonderful, but as a result we can never quite be sure if the ref really is not up to the job, or else if he has been bought.

We do know that FIFA – the organisation at the very top of football – is completely bent.  As the December 2006 court ruling stated, “Fifa lied repeatedly…”    FIFA reacted to that typically by saying it would appeal.  It didn’t – but the statement kept the issue quiet for a big longer.   Oh yes, and Blatter called the court ruling “biased.”

So if FIFA has the ability to lie and lie, what does that say about the morality of the rest of football?

7 comments to The morality of football…

  • don't believe the hype

    There is an arrogant assumption that England has a monopoly on honesty and therefore what happened in Italy could never happen here. However, a referee’s salary compared to the ridiculous sums of money floating around the game and the growth in gambling leads me to believe it’s very likely. There have been way too many suspicious decisions for certain teams not to at least be concerned about the possibility. But who would even care to investigate? Certainly not the F.A. which is the most corrupt of the lot.

  • Yes this is weird and this is the reason i believe that video evidence in a match will never come about. I believe we do not have video evidence in a match because of the points that you made above. Clearly i am just speculating but it is something that people should take into consideration to think about. Also I believe video evidence would not slow down the game , people would wait to see the correct decision given to not feel robbed at the end of a game. I watch rugby too and it only makes the game better , plus theres no right or wrong but only right.

  • Matlee

    Where there is money & especially the amounts in the Premier league we would be naive to think it doesn’t exist-players cheat in front of cameras to gain advantage, so what goes on behind closed doors? What is king? money or honesty-well money talks!

  • Matlee

    Depressing & sad as it is, thats the world we live in & hopefuly it is kept to a minimum by an honest majority -with just a few weak (money for god’s) weasles! Oh i do apologise that is extremely harsh to weasles.

  • Micah Ricahrds

    “Man City are expected to swoop for Van Persie in next hour. Bid reported to be around £42 million” According to Setanta. Probably just rumours.

  • Consolsbob

    On a related matter. What about those two soft goals that Howard conceded against ‘Stevie G’?

  • Kevin

    You’ve reminded me about something, Tony. When the refereeing scandal came to light in Italy, various clubs, Juve in particular, were punished by their domestic league and various Italian match officials were also dealt with.

    What continues to annoy me is that many of the phone calls concerned officials for specific Champions League – ie UEFA – matches, yet nothing was publicly said or apparently done about it outside Italy.

    Explicit statements along the lines of “I placed a great referee for the Amsterdam match” were made. References to specific European games mean that specific officials were at least implicated, even if they were not actually guilty. As these were matches involving Italian teams then clearly non-Italian officials were apparently implicated. That means it’s a matter for UEFA and the country those officials came from to investigate.

    Officials may have been quietly removed from duty but I don’t remember a word being said.