The "Calcioscomesse" scandal is shaping Italy's 2012/13 title race, with Napoli slipping two places because of two-point ban.
Price of loyalty can prove to be costly
The "Calcioscomesse" scandal is shaping Italy's 2012/13 title race.
Investigations into match-fixing, albeit mostly involving clubs who were at the time in lower divisions than Serie A, have now led to punishments against Napoli, whose two-point deduction, imposed on them yesterday as employers of players found guilty of various misdemeanours, means they slip from third to fifth - pending appeal.
Napoli had on Sunday already failed to climb up to second place, due to a 3-2 defeat by Bologna, whose winning goal was headed home by one Daniele Portanova. Ironically, Portanova's own four-month ban had just expired.
He had always insisted he was innocent of the charge of failing to report an attempt to fix a match between Bologna and Bari two seasons ago; he was never accused of active involvement.
The same charge of failing to whistle-blow - "omessa denuncia" - has now led to six-month bans for the Napoli captain Paolo Cannavaro and colleague Gianluca Grava, deemed to have been aware that the former Napoli goalkeeper, Matteo Gianello, tried to fix a game against Sampdoria at the end of the 2009/10 season and not alerted authorities.
Footballers grow up instinctively protective of one another and are taught to value loyalty as an essential part of the team unity.
They are learning the hard way that even the slightest hint a teammate may be corruptible means not only keeping their distance, but that it is part of their job to raise the alarm against him.
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE