Italian Soccer Scandal not the Worst of its Kind.

"All in all, if the NCAA's football system was any more corrupt it would be Italian soccer. But at least in Italian soccer, the players get paid."

Thus concludes sportswriter Jack Todd's take on the BCS.

So could the BCS be 'anymore corrupt than Italian soccer?' Absolutely.

This quote was forwarded to me by a soccer fan. We both found it to odd on many levels. First, in our opinion, it does not tie in well with the overall premise of the article. It awkwardly attempts to connect Italian soccer corruption with College sports. Second, of course Italian players get paid - that's what professional leagues do; they pay their athletes. College football is not, last I checked, in the professional ranks - though the lines are increasingly blurred regarding this.

In any event, the comment can be interpreted as though the players were involved; which they weren't. Third, and most important, Serie A's scandal was made public. Admissions of guilt were followed with various penalties. College football has not come clean regarding alleged corruption. Last, and most important, Italy is not the only league in world soccer to face corruption. It's only the latest one. Add that Serie A is one of the world's most successful leagues and you have instant exposure.

Let's further examine this quote. The Italian soccer scandal is indeed a black mark on the country's soccer heritage. However, full credit must go to Italian magistrates and Serie A for at least sending a message. How far this message goes is anyone's guess. To some, the only people who paid the price were the players, fans and clubs. Not the people who keep the problem chronic.

Teams were penalized with points deductions and one - Juventus - was demoted. Juventus's demotion was important because it's akin to sending the New York Yankees or Montreal Canadiens to the minor leagues.

Corruption comes in many faces. The Italian version is the type where team officials would do anything to remain on top. It came in the form of Chairmen contacting referees and offering bribes - among all sorts of other strange stories. In the case of Juventus, the fans subscribe to the 'win at all cost' mantra literally. But is Italy the only offender?

Of course not. Germany, Belgium, France, England, Holland, Portugal, Spain and Finland have all faced various types of scandals in varying degrees over the years. To say nothing of South America where corruption in places like Brazil and Argentina remains chronic and persistent. The same can be said of Africa. The German match-fixing scandal in 2005 involved "elements of the Croatia mafia" according to a report by 'The Independent' in 2005. Belgium also dealt with gamblers and local criminals.

It does not stop at the domestic level. Soccer corruption reaches the very top of world soccer at FIFA. As President of FIFA Sepp Blatter is arguably one of the most despised President of FIFA ever. Mr. Blatter himself has been the subject of several allegations of corruption. Surprise, surprise. This is soccer people: The most popular sport on the planet where 190 countries have a team. FIFA'S membership is bigger than the UN's. Do the math.

But the one that may prove even bigger finds its home in England. Over the years I have often heard how "quiet" and "sophisticated" English corruption is. All what was needed was proof. It finally came in the form of undercover Panaroma documentary in the UK. As the BBC online reported, "In the undercover Panorama film it is claimed that 18 past and present Premiership managers had been named as having taken illegal payments. Also, "further investigations will be conducted jointly with the Premier League. These will be into the Chelsea head of development, Frank Arnesen, Liverpool FC, Newcastle United FC and the transfers of Hidetoshi Nakata, Tal Ben Haim and Ali Al-Habsi to Bolton Wanderers."

The beautiful game, unfortunately, can't transcend human vices.

However, it turns out, the BCS could sink further below Italian soccer.



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