The problem of match-fixing in football has created countless villains. It has, nevertheless, also produced heroes, and one of them is undoubtedly Simone Farina.
In 2011, the then Gubbio defender was offered a substantial sum to influence the outcome of a Coppa Italia game against Cesena. Farina instead refused the bribe and reported the incident to the authorities, resulting in the arrest of 17 people and a big blow being struck to those attempting to corrupt the sport.
Farina was duly called up by Italy coach Cesare Prandelli to train with the squad for a few days, given special recognition by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter during the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala in January 2012, and made a FIFA Ambassador for Fair Play.
The 30-year-old, who has since retired from playing and is now also a community coach at Aston Villa, has outlined how imperative it is for total co-operation with FIFA and INTERPOL in their fight against match-fixing.
“This is not a problem only in Italy or any one particular country, this is an international problem and the scale of it really saddens me,” said Farina. “It is vital that there is complete collaboration with FIFA and INTERPOL, so that the problem can be tackled properly and we no longer have such scandal in the game.
“The responsibility lies with the players and officials of football clubs. The management of the clubs have to act and support the players and support the authorities in their investigations. They cannot leave players isolated and afraid to speak out when they are confronted by the wrong individuals. Players need to feel empowered and supported in order to be able to report what they need to when they are approached by organised syndicates.
“Match-fixing has no place in football. It is a blight on the game, and for the future of the game we need to tackle it and overcome it now.”