Tag Archive: Italy

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup‘s comments that he sees nothing wrong with clubs offering rival teams money to win if it will benefit them – so-called ‘suitcasing’ and apparently commonplace in Spain – have quite rightly sparked anger amongst British football fans.

Laudrup has caused controversy by saying he doesn’t “see anything bad” in the suggestion that a third side can offer another in the league a financial reward, or incentive, to win a game that benefits them both.

To explain further, a hypothetical example would be Swansea players being offered an extra financial bonus by, say, Wigan for the Welsh club to beat, for example, Southampton, if that result would directly benefit Wigan in a relegation battle.

While these crucial occasions are not common and usually restricted to the final weeks of a season, the suggestion that it is ‘OK’ for this practice to go ahead is surely dangerous for the game – and for someone of Laudrup’s standing to offer his backing to it, quite frankly, shocking.

Laudrup said: “If Swansea play the last game against a team and a third team pays Swansea to win the game, I really don’t see anything bad about that.”

Online message-boards and phone-ins have been dominated by fans angered by his comments and they are quite right to object to what is a flawed wisdom which breeds and feeds an underground current and a totally unregulated culture that will unduly affect results and scores

It is a very dangerous and murky road to go down. If players are suddenly offered more money to win games then how long before others are offered more to lose a meaningless game? In truth, while it might not be technically illegal, it completely goes against sporting traditions and is a short sidestep away from blatant match-fixing – something we are thankfully not too familiar with in the Barclays premier league but an issue which remains a threat in other parts of the world, not least Italy, where an ongoing match-fixing scandal at the highest level continues to be investigated.

In the light of Laudrup’s naive and outspoken comments, the FA have reminded everyone they, of course, have clear rules to outlaw any form of bribery, match-fixing and corruption.

Some will say that Laudrup, brought up and used to football in another culture, was merely revealing what many know goes on ahead of certain crucial games in other countries and expressing his personal opinion that he doesn’t see much wrong with it.

But it is clearly a dark route for football to go down and, while it may be seen as ‘the norm’ in Spain, it is never something that should be tolerated over here.


By Tony Alvarez
Yesterday Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini questioned the standard of refereeing in England and admitted he was some what disappointed by the standard of refereeing in England Is not what he expected.
The Italian said “When I was in Italy I always thought, here, there were the best referees, My idea has changed.”
Although I can’t relate to Mancini’s experience of referee’s in Italy as to that of the ref’s in England I do somewhat agree with him.
Despite attending matches as much as possible in previous years this is the first season I’ve had a season ticket thus attending every match and seeing 90 minutes every week.

Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

After a Championship that has seen moments of brilliance and plenty of drama, the 2012 Six Nations draws to an exciting conclusion.

All eyes will be on Wales after their win over Italy last Saturday meant that a third Grand Slam in eight years is now in reach – but standing in their way is the unpredictable French.

A slip-up from the Welsh could leave the door ajar for England to claim a second consecutive Championship, but they will not have it all their own way against the Championship’s try machine of Ireland.

The first game of Super Saturday will see the Wooden Spoon decided as Scotland travel to Italy and try to finish what has been a frustrating tournament on a high.     Continue reading

Six Nations Week Three Preview

By Laurie Fitzgerald

With the upcoming games this weekend marking the halfway mark of this year’s championship, the 2012 Six Nations reaches a critical stage.

Following the postponement of France v Ireland in round two, it is Wales and England that lead the way with two wins out of two, and they face each other at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon.

Earlier that day, Ireland will finally play their second game in this tournament at home to Italy as both teams look for their first win in the championship.

Then on Sunday, France travel to Murrayfield to face a Scotland side looking to claim a notable scalp after a disappointing campaign so far.   Continue reading

Six Nations Week Two Preview

By Laurie Fitzgerald

This year’s Six Nations got underway last weekend with the sort of tension and drama you’d expect from the Championship.

The first game saw France begin their new era under Philippe Saint-Andre with a deserved win at home to an ambitious Italy in Paris.

Then came a tight Calcutta Cup affair as Scotland were left to rue missed opportunities as a new-look England got their campaign off to a winning start.

But the game of the weekend served up a cracker in Dublin as Leigh Halfpenny‘s 79th minute penalty broke the hearts of Ireland to give Wales a famous away win.

Now we move on to week two as England travel to Italy, Ireland try to get their championship back on track in France, and Wales look to build on their dramatic winning start when they face Scotland in Cardiff.   Continue reading

Six Nations Week One Preview

By Laurie Fitzgerald

This weekend the 2012 Six Nations Championship begins, and for many of the nations it is the beginning of a new era.

Memories are still fresh for everyone after mixed fortunes for the Northern Hemisphere in the Rugby World Cup.

While some sides will be looking for continuity, others will be looking for a fresh approach as the new cycle begins for the next global showpiece in 2015.   Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

When it comes to dealing with racism within football, it’s important to notice what are isolated incidents and what are consistently occurring.

While racism may still exist in English football (without having evidence, its difficult to state otherwise) at least there is a concerted effort being made by the national governing bodies (Football Association, Premier League, Football League) with its ‘Kick Racism out of Football’ campaign.

However, the same cannot be said for some countries throughout Europe. One of the worst that suffers from this appalling form of discrimination is Italy.

Its main victim comes in the form of young Mario Balotelli. The young Manchester City striker once again faced racist abuse during Italy’s 1-1 draw with Romania, with about 100 right-wing extreme Italian fans targeting the 20 year-old due to the colour of his skin.

It wasn’t just booing that he was subjected to; there was a banner within the HypoArena stadium in Austria, where the friendly took place, stating; “no to a multi-ethnic national team.”

Now it’s obvious that this is a problem stemming from the minority within Italy. As Balotelli said after the game, “Where I live, the people don’t reason like these people. A multi-ethnic Italy already exists and we can do better.”

But this is not an isolated incident, certainly not for Balotelli. In April last year, he was taunted with racist chants from Juventus fans during a game between his former club Inter Milan and the Turin giants. One of these chants was along the lines of, “a black Italian does not exist.”

The punishment? Juve were ordered by the Italian FA to play their next home game behind closed doors. But are these sorts of punishments strict enough?

By handing such a minor punishment, it indicates to the public that the Italian FA only views it as a minor problem, which is surely not the case. Therefore, the need to get tougher in dealing with these racists is increasing.

While home games behind closed doors will hurt the revenue of a club, attendances aren’t sell-outs at the best of times, with many fans watching Italian football from the comfort of their own homes. The majority of their money is made through television deals.

While harming their television deals may lead to a huge legal battle, how about hurting them on the pitch with point deductions? Surely this will have more of an impact on the clubs to do something about the issue.

When it comes to these extremists, they probably won’t be affected by whether or not their clubs face harsher punishments. But it will make the clubs themselves more determined from preventing them from entering stadiums and airing their sick opinions to those who have no time for them.

Of course Italy isn’t the only country dealing with racism. Who can forget the goodbye that Russian fans gave to Peter Odemwingie when he left Lokomotiv Moscow for West Brom, when Lokomotiv fans unfurled a banner with a banana on it saying “thanks West Brom.” But harsher punishments can help go a long way to stopping racism maintaining an unwanted place within football.

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