Italian football was hit with another jolt earlier this week after former Napoli goal keeper Matteo Gianello confessed to fixing a match in Serie A three seasons ago. This latest episode of match-fixing in a country that has seen far too many of them has put yet another bruising black eye on Italian soccer. Maybe their prime minister, Mario Monti, was on to something when he suggested earlier this year the banning of the sport in the country for two or three years
For admitting to manipulating the game, Gianello was docked a ban from the sport for three years and three months by the Italian soccer federation’s disciplinary committee. Equally important are the penalties docked on Napoli, including a fine of €70,000 and two points in this season’s Serie A standings, dropping them from a tie in third place to fifth place and 10 points out of reach of current table leader Juventus. On top of that, current Napoli captain Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava have both been banned six months for apparently not reporting the fix, something Gianello admitted that they knew when it occurred.
The match in question, a Serie A season-ending tilt between Napoli and Sampdoria, occurred on May 16, 2010. Sampdoria won that match 1-0, thereby securing fourth place for the winners and a spot in Champions League qualifying.
Naturally, Napoli has been up-in-arms over the penalties meted to them by the country’s soccer federation. The club released a statement on their website voicing their disapproval over taking away two points from the team’s total in the middle of the season. “Each decision should be made before a season starts or at the end of a season,” the statement said. “Plenty of time has passed since the 2009-10 season to evaluate and decide.”
In any case, Napoli is expected to appeal the decision, although you have to wonder if that’ll amount to anything. If Napoli does push through with the appeal, they can bring it up to a national sports arbitration court, who will end up having the final say on the matter.
Whether or not the appeals end up becoming successful, it doesn’t take away the continuing sentiment that Italian soccer is still dirty with match-fixing episodes. Napoli’s already the fifth team in Serie A this year to have points taken away from them as a result of alleged match-fixing. We hope they’ll be the last, but we won’t be surprised if they’re not.
That’s how tainted Italian soccer is looking right now.