Turin ‘turmoil’ and corrupt cricketers
The limelight was taken away from Juventus' heroes by their blundering bigwig Giuseppe Marotta...
We’ve long held the belief that any country that manages to elect walking hormone/billionaire clown Silvio Berlusconi three times, yes three times, as prime minister either likes a laugh or doesn’t have many issues with allegations of corruption.
However, that didn’t make Juventus’ reaction on Sunday to their first Scudetto since 2003 any less annoying and galling. The Old Lady played up to it’s nickname by acting as senile as Great Uncle 7DAYS when sporting director Giuseppe Marotta said that, as far as he was concerned, it was the club’s 30th top-flight title.
We’ll forgive some people the odd miscalculation or porkie, but coming from Juve it makes our skin crawl.
You see, Sunday’s 2-0 win over Cagliari brought the Turin club its 28th Serie A crown, not 30th. The ‘confusion’ stems from the fact the club tried to cheat their way to the title in the Calciopoli scandal that sent shockwaves through Italy six years ago.
That bout of attempted match-fixing rocked the country (in as much as scandal can there…) and resulted in Juve, among other teams, being dealt a big punishment: demotion to Serie B and stripped of their titles won in 2005 and ’06.
But, according to Marotta, that nasty tale has not only been forgotten in Turin but also rendered as inconsequential come the roll call of honours.
“It’s our 30th Scudetto. We have 30 on all the champagne bottles and we have won 30 titles,” he said.
“There was a lot of hard work from the whole club, but we absolutely deserved this.” The famous side’s first Scudetto in years is definitely something to celebrate, but to sully it by claiming they were unfairly treated all those years ago is nothing short of shocking.
What they, and AC Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina and Reggina, did was attempt to cheat their way to the top, to glory. For them the old accepted ways of victory - brilliance through hard work and endeavour, wasn’t good enough. They cheated the opposition, the fans and ultimately themselves. It wasn’t just anti-football, it was anti-sport and as far as we’re concerned the punishment wasn’t nearly harsh enough.
Marotta’s outburst may well be typical of a top flight that doesn’t do responsibility, but to take the spotlight away from the efforts of Gianluigi Buffon and Co with his ill-thought-out jibe was stupid in the extreme. Players like keeper Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero are the ones who should have been stealing the limelight. They’re the ones who stayed with Juve when they dropped down to Serie B, when there were clubs across Europe who wanted to snap them up and pay them shedloads of cash per week.
That admirable loyalty was finally repaid on Sunday, and as all-time great Del Piero said: “For me and the others who were there, there is something very special about this moment. I would like to remember all the boys who played in Serie B, we all came back very happy.”
However, that wonderful tale of triumph and loyalty was lost as another Italian bigwig once again tried to wash his hands of responsibility for one of the worst attempts of cheating the sport has known. We shouldn’t be surprised; no apology has ever been forthcoming from Juve over Calciopoli and it’s way too much to expect one now.
However, we thought that letting the players bask in the glory of their well-earned title victory was the least Marotta should have done rather than embark on another bout of poorly judged point scoring.
BUTT’S SORRY TALE
So disgraced Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt is “lonely and depressed” as he serves time in a British jail for corruption, according to recently released co-offender Mohammad Asif.
As the saying goes: buy the ticket, take the ride.
Considering the alternatives of where he could be spending his 30-month sentence, Butt doesn’t realise how good he’s got it. Playing “badminton and football” in a Canterbury prison is five-star luxury compared to an overcrowded cell in Lahore. And we’re guessing that’s where the millions of cricket-mad Pakistanis wouldn’t mind seeing him after he brought yet more shame on their team.
The spot-fixing scandal bowled a bouncer at sporting values of fair play and stuck up the proverbial finger at the billions of fans across the world just so Butt could line his pockets - tawdry doesn’t cover it.
The ex-skipper was thinking only of himself when he ordered Asif and Mohammed Amir to deliberately bowl no balls two years ago. And while we’re sure he’s not living the life of Riley, that’s hardly a sob story to rival the one he nearly created by coming close to having Pakistan hounded out of the world game.
We’re not completely heartless and realise it can’t be easy spending time away from his young family. And it’s highly likely Butt never envisaged the repercussions of that day at Lord’s would be as harsh as they were. Did anyone?
But while the former captain didn’t think twice about ruining the credibility of the game and the reputation of every single cricketer in his homeland when he rolled the spot-fixing dice, his punishment means the next player in his situation certainly will.
And as Butt can probably attest to, it just isn’t worth it.