x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Effort to root out corruption by Italy's FA offers some hope

More allegations of corruption surround Italian football, but Fifa's head of security is satisfied there is a system in place to root it out and stop it.

Chris Eaton, right, Fifa's head of security, says the Italian football association
Chris Eaton, right, Fifa's head of security, says the Italian football association "is well co-ordinated with the investigations of the police" into corruption of Serie A games.

More allegations about extensive match-fixing in Italian domestic football last season have surfaced.

In an interview with La Repubblica, Hristiyan Ilievski, a Macedonian named by investigators as a chief suspect in a betting ring that collaborated with players, claims even last Serie A title should be under suspicion.

That rather contradicted his assessment that "the majority" of players involved in the scams he knew of "had been in Serie B".

So, while it is never wise to dismiss absolutely allegations of crookedness in the sport, Ilievksi's words should probably be evaluated only when this particular fugitive repeats his information to prosecutors.

The 2011 revelations, which led to the arrest of the Atalanta captain Christian Doni, among others, were warning enough that Italy needs to be vigilant.

But its systems for detection have also earned praise. Fifa's Head of Security, Chris Eaton, told The National that "unlike some other countries, the Italian football administration is well coordinated with the investigations of the police, and that, importantly, ensures the game is protected early".

Eaton has no doubt some organised crime networks in Italy have become involved in match-fixing but he is encouraged the mechanisms to root out the problem have become more efficient. That is essential in a country where the honesty of the game has been questioned too often for comfort.