Calcio called into question, again

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INTER 2Samuel 46′, Thiago Motta 70′

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The top leagues in England, Spain and Italy are going right down to the wire. A mere point or two is all that separates Chelsea from Manchester United, Barcelona from Real Madrid and Inter from Roma.

Roma have been spectacular in the last few months, reeling in Inter’s lead like a determined angler reeling in his prize catch. They have made the race for the scudetto interesting, as Milan’s challenge fell away towards the business end. Inter have played their part too, but struggled for a period and allowed the Romans to take top spot, before regaining their composure and their place at the top. Last weekend however did little for the scudetto, and even less for calico. Once again corruption reared its ugly head and once again the authorities are faced with a pre-World Cup mess.

In 2006 the world was shocked with the Calciopoli mix-fixing scandal that had plagued some top-flite clubs in Italy. It threatened not only to undermine the World Cup campaign, but also to destroy the legitimacy of Italian football. 2007 saw the death of a policeman as they clashed with supporters on the day of the Derby di Sicilia between Catania and Palermo, and the subsequent indefinite suspension of football. A little less serious event than both took place in the Italian capital on Sunday, yet one that was no less impressive.

Prior to Lazio’s game with Inter at the Stadio Olimpico, there was much conjecture as to the possible intentions of the Biancocelesti to sabotage their city-rivals attempt at claiming the scudetto for the first time since 2001. Many Lazio tifosi openly insisted on this happening. Also a factor was the home team’s perilous position close to the relegation zone, and the face-off between Bologna and Atalanta, the two teams directly below them. Both were seemingly to have an influence. Head coach Edoardo Reja insisted that nothing untoward would take place and that is was important for his team to win the match to ensure their stay in Serie A.

There was every chance that even giving their full effort would not have been enough for Lazio to avoid defeat against the team who have dominated Serie A in recent times, just like Liverpool were powerless to stop Chelsea and allow rivals Manchester United a clear run at the Premier League title. A one-sided first half turned into a stroll in the park for the champions during the second. A hint of embarrassment crept onto Inter faces, as a hint of suspicion filled the voices of commentators. It did not help the situation that by kick-off the home side knew they were safe, after their relegation rivals had fought out a draw. Had the games been played at the same time, one may suggest that a more hard fought contest would have ensued.

Roma are threatening to make a formal complaint and President Rosella Sensi is rejecting the legitimacy of the whole league. With calico again called into question, one must wonder what happens next.

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