Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
watch listen BBC Sport BBC Sport
Low graphics|Help
---------------
---------------
CHOOSE A SPORT
RELATED BBC SITES
Last Updated: Friday, 14 July 2006, 19:26 GMT 20:26 UK
The worst scandal of them all
By Dan Warren

Clockwise: The badges of AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Juventus
AC Milan, Fiorentina, Juventus and Lazio are implicated
Italian football is coming to terms with the sheer enormity of its match-fixing scandal after a sports tribunal handed down heavy punishments to some of the country's biggest clubs on Friday.

Champions Juventus were hardest hit - relegated to the second division, stripped of their last two Serie A titles and had 30 points deducted from next season's total, meaning they will almost certainly spend at least two seasons in Serie B.

Lazio and Fiorentina were also demoted, without the extra penalties, while Juve's fellow giants AC Milan were spared demotion, but were handed a 15-point penalty.

But where does this episode rate in terms of the history of football?

BBC Sport examines other times when the sport's integrity has been called into question and examines whether Italy 2006 is the biggest scandal of them all.

CORRUPT REFEREES IN GERMANY

The 2006 World Cup gave German football a feel-good factor, but it is easy to forget that only last year the sport was rocked by scandal.

Referee Robert Hoyzer confessed to trying to fix matches in the second division, third division and German Cup.

And his testimony uncovered a murky network of corruption linked to a Croatian gambling syndicate.

The threat of two years in prison will make one or two people think before trying to influence a football match

German FA head Theo Zwanziger
Hoyzer's performance in Hamburg's shock 4-2 German Cup loss to unfancied Paderborn in August 2004 brought about the uncovering of the scandal.

Hoyzer's favourable treatment of Paderborn resulted in complaints being filed to the German Football Association (DFB).

The DFB's investigation ran alongside a criminal investigation which uncovered a shockingly widespread web of corruption.

Hoyzer eventually received a 29-month prison sentence while Ante Sapina, the Croatian who orchestrated the match-fixing, was jailed for 35 months. Other people were convicted with lesser punishments.

German football association president Theo Zwanziger said he hoped the severe penalties would root out corruption.

"The threat of two-and-a-half years in prison will certainly make one or two people think before trying to influence a football match," Zwanziger said.

The scandal was the worst crisis German football had known for decades.

But no clubs were implicated and the questionable games all happened beneath Germany's top football tier, the Bundesliga.

BRAZIL'S CORRUPT OFFICIAL

Brazilian referee Edilson Pereira de Carvalho was banned from football for life in October 2005 for attempting to influence results in the country's top division for an illegal online betting site run from Sao Paulo.

The repercussions were chaotic for Brazilian football.

Eleven key championship matches were replayed after Pareira de Carvalho - a Fifa referee before the controversy came to light - admitted favouring sides in return for a fee.

The corruption was uncovered. But replaying the matches caused another problem.

The new results enabled Corinthians to make up points they had lost earlier in the season and claim the title at the expense of rivals Internacional - who would have taken the crown had the original results stood.

MARSEILLE'S MURKY PAST

In 1993 the European Cup became the Champions League and Marseille shocked AC Milan in the final to win the first title under the new format.

They were the first French side to be crowned European champions, but the celebrations back home did not last long as allegations of match-fixing soon emerged.

It was discovered their president Bernard Tapie had bribed French club Valenciennes FC into throwing a league game, allowing Marseille to win the title and giving them more time to concentrate on the final against Milan.

Marseille were stripped of the French title that season and later relegated to the second division over financial regularities.

They were also unable to defend their European crown the following season after being thrown out of the competition by Uefa.

Former cabinet minister Tapie was heavily implicated in the scandal and was later imprisoned.

Marseille made it back into the top flight in 1996 but further allegations of match-fixing as well as doping accusations emerged.

The club, who are one of the most successful in the history of French football, have failed to win a trophy since the scandal of 1993.

THE CASE OF BRUCE GROBBELAAR

Britain's Sun newspaper alleged that former Liverpool and Southampton goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar took 40,000 to make sure Liverpool lost 3-0 away to Newcastle in 1993.

He acted in a way in which no decent or honest footballer would act

Lord Bingham on Bruce Grobbelaar
Grobbelaar was taken to court twice in the 1990s, but each time the case ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict.

The Durban-born keeper subsequently sued for libel and eventually won 85,000 in damages in August 1999.

However, the Sun appealed against the decision and in January 2001 Grobbelaar's award was reduced to 1 - and he was ordered to pay huge legal costs.

Lord Justice Simon Brown said the jury's verdict in favour of Grobbelaar in 1999 represented "a miscarriage of justice" because Grobbelaar's case was "utterly implausible".

In his judgement, Lord Bingham of Cornhill said that Grobbelaar had no reputation to be damaged by libellous comments.

"He had in fact acted in a way in which no decent or honest footballer would act," he said.

"He acted in a way which could, if not exposed and stamped on, undermine the integrity of a game which earns the loyalty and support of millions."

ITALY'S 'TOTONERO' AFFAIR

Italy's World Cup triumph in Spain in 1982 came two years after a huge controversy over match-fixing.

The so-called Totonero affair, named after the term for illegal betting schemes in Italy, involved a syndicate attempting to tamper with Serie A and B matches.

It culminated in mass arrests and in the aftermath AC Milan and Lazio were relegated to Serie B.

A total of 50 years of bans from football was handed out to the culprits, while various teams incurred a total of 25 deducted points.

The most notable protagonist was Italy striker Paolo Rossi, who was handed a three-year ban for his role.

That was cut by 12 months to allow him to play in the 1982 World Cup.

Rossi went on to score six goals, including a memorable hat-trick in Italy's 3-2 win over Brazil in the second group stage, and finished as the tournament's leading scorer.

Following this year's triumph in Berlin, you might be forgiven for thinking that, in modern times, World Cup success for Italy only comes against the backdrop of domestic football scandal.

THE ESMOND MILLION CONTROVERSY

Back in April 1963, Bristol Rovers goalkeeper Esmond Million arranged a deal whereby he would receive 300 in return for ensuring Rovers lost a match against Bradford Park Avenue.

It did not work as Million's Rovers team-mates, unaware of his actions, secured a 2-2 draw. And the truth soon came out.

At training the following week, Rovers manager Bert Tann accused his goalie of throwing the game, Million confessed and was reported to the FA.

He was eventually charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act, found guilty and fined 50.

Three weeks later he was banned from football for life.

CONCLUSION

There will always be a desire for unscrupulous people to fix football matches.

Hundreds of millions of pounds are wagered on football every year in the UK alone.

Across the globe, the football betting industry is huge and it is obvious why people will try to gain an unfair advantage.

But in the past, the corruption has tended to come from illicit betting syndicates working in conjunction with small rogue groups - often referees or goalkeepers as they are the individuals most likely to influence the result of a game.

The corruption uncovered in Italy is bigger than anything seen in Germany, Brazil or England. It has involved collusion from some of the biggest figures and clubs in the game.

But football remains an incredibly difficult sport to fix.

Many individual elements can affect the result of a match. And a corrupt performance by a referee or a goalkeeper may influence a result, but may also stand out as suspicious.

And the verdict in Italy proves that even when corruption goes to the very top, it can still be uncovered.



SEE ALSO
Old Lady takes a tumble
14 Jul 06 |  Europe
Serie A sale
14 Jul 06 |  Europe
Italian football's tangled web
18 May 06 |  Europe
Zidane off as Italy win World Cup
09 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006
Triumph from despair
09 Jul 06 |  Italy
Match-fixing charge rocks Brazil
26 Sep 05 |  Americas
Tim Vickery column
28 Nov 05 |  World Football
Paper welcomes Grobbelaar ruling
18 Jan 01 |  UK News


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

BBC PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Daily and weekly e-mails | Mobiles | Desktop Tools | News Feeds | Interactive Television | Downloads
Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

Help | Privacy & Cookies Policy | News sources | About the BBC | Contact us