Today’s revelations that Italian standout Gennaro Gattuso has been potentially implicated in match-fixing drags this black mark on the game into a new area.
Gattuso was a World Cup winner for Italy and an AC Milan institution, with 13 years invested in the famous club. He is easily the biggest name yet implicated in the wide-ranging investigation of rigging matches. And isn’t that a little scary?
Not so long ago, world soccer leaders could convince themselves that match-fixing was an issue confined to the soccer back waters, relatively speaking, that this unseemly matter was the province of second- and third-division in Europe, or the “top” leagues in distant Asian lands.
But the drip-drip of news soon implicated UEFA Champions League matches and even World Cup and European Championship qualifiers that may have been linked to some funny business. And now perhaps Italy’s Serie A?
Just yesterday, Fox Sports’ Leander Schaerlaeckens wondered when England – yes, venerable England! – would wake up to the possibility of potential infiltration. It’s an interesting piece, where a match-fixing expert wonders when the British game will shake its “attitude of cultural superiority” and get more vigilant along the watchtower for this stuff.
While it’s important to understand that “match-fixing” isn’t always about actually rigging the results – in many instances, the “rigging” is a player getting a yellow card or perhaps a penalty kick being awarded at some point in a match – all of this does go to the integrity of the game.
And the really big money would be in rigging the result. Anyone out there naïve enough to believe it hasn’t already taken place in some prominent league?
It’s going to happen at some point, the huge bombshell of a criminal revelation. Actual results in the Premier League or in the World Cup finals tournament will find their way into this mud.
It would seem that having a figure like Gattuso implicated – not convicted, it must be said, not yet – moves us one painful step closer to that awful destination.