O Jogo Bonito


Brazil were three-one up, the Cameroonian brave effrontery of the first half had all but faded and you got the sense that finally, in their third match of the home finals, the verdeoro were letting their hair (and oh what hair) down. The fear of losing could finally vanish together with the trepidation of committing that ultimate Marcelo-style mistake. Not that Thiago Silva had not come close on at least two occasions earlier in the match.

Still. Tension was down and bar a few unnecessary fouls by the Lions in green the stage was set for some beautiful football. And Neymar obliged. The chosen one had the ball at his feet close to the far corner, infront of him the impudent giant called Nyom. Neymar had a 101 options on how to go around the defender who had earlier, surely in a bout of heat-provoked insanity, gratuitously pushed the very same Neymar onto the photographers with the ball already out of contention. Would Neymar dance over the ball until the defender lay there hypnotised and then push it away beyond Nyom’s grasp? Would he kick the ball one way and dart another? Would he just cross over his head?

None of that. Neymar went for the Ardiles move. You know, the one featured in Escape to Victory (see video below), where the player lifts the ball with both his legs, rolling it gently until it hits the base of one of them and then loops it over his head. Audacity, flair, creativity – the core of beautiful football. O Jogo Bonito. Neymar’s move failed as the ball rolled away for a spot kick. Nyom was not having it though. He grasped the Chosen one by the neck and gave him a good telling off. The French commentator was jaw-droppingly on the defender’s side. “He’s right to be pissed off. You cannot mock defenders like that”.

“Beauty comes first. Victory is secondary. What matters is joy.” – Socrates

Mock defenders? What kind of attitude is that? A few minutes later Neymar did a double umbrella on Nyom – leaving him transfixed. The telling off had not worked and Neymar still had more than a few tricks up his sleeve. And rightly so. Of all places and tournaments where we need more of the beautiful game, of the cheeky game, I would say the World Cup is it. Club football has become overtactical, overphysical and overcommercial. The stakes are too high to allow for the magic and beauty of great exploits and golden touches. So the World Cup where the only prize at stake is the famous golden trophy (and not the millions of the Champions’ League – the money at the world cup goes to FIFA and its nefarious plans of world domination). At stake is the glory and greatness of being the best team in the world – not according to IFFHS standards but as a result of a one-month tournament andhaving outwitted seven opponents.

There are so many factors that influence the final outcome that you cannot deny that the team lifting the trophy at the end is not necessarily the one that “deserved” to be called the best at the end of the day. We all know that cups and trophies are not about desert but about winning. Score one more goal than your opponents or suffer one less goal than your opponents – those are the two pragmatic philosophies of football that end up with the same result when successful. But from kick off to the final whistle there is some football to be played and we really should be encouraging the World Cup teams to show off their beautiful game.

It’s not just Neymar, it’s Dempsey, Messi, Kwadwoh Asamoah, Pirlo, Pogba, Mertens, Robben. Let them shine. Let them caress the ball and make it move in wonderful ways that defy physics and defy your very emotion. Is there really a more beautiful expression than that of Joe Hart as he watches Pirlo’s freekick turn in the air like a UFO on drugs? (watch Hart tell Pirlo about his impression here). Can we not all watch in awe as Mexico’s Ochoa pulls out the saves and moves of a lifetime, away from the misery of his Ligue 1 performances? Legend has it that during Poland’s 7-0 rout of Haiti in 1974, the Polish coach reminded the team during half time that “This is the World Cup” so they should not lift their foot off the pedal.

And now we have all this talk about “respect”. It’s the football equivalent of politically correct. By “respect your opponents” they mean that when a team like the Netherlands are cruising against Spain then they should stop after, say, the third goal. Out of respect. They mean that when Neymar can and will be able to pull off a magic trick against an opponent he should, if possible, refrain from doing so, and attempt the boring move. Out of respect.

Now I am the first to back the “Victory” philosophy at club level – much as I am a firm believer in the beautiful football (joga bonito). I will gladly watch my club sacrifice any semblance of beauty if only to get to the final and win the Champions League. But not at national level. Bereft of any sense of fanaticism I will only root for teams that showcase a beautiful game – a mixture of determination, creativity and flair. Which is why I cannot but admire Costa Rica, Chile, the United States and even unlucky Ghana at this stage. I would rather Brasil play a beautiful game and get knocked out than they win the trophy with a dry pragmatic team as in 2002 1994.

Sometimes a match can be the making of a champion’s myth. Look what 1986 match against England did to Maradona. Had he handballed or scored the “Goal of the Century” against Algeria or Honduras it would not have made half the impact it did. They called David Seaman Mr SafeHands. Until Ronaldinho decided to hit a free kick from almost the half way line and Seaman had no idea it was coming until he heard the ball hit the back of the net. Remember Branco and his cannon shot free kick against the Netherlands? Remember the exploits of Hagi, Stoichkov? Now name one great move by Greece’s European Cup winning team.

International competitions are over a short period. It can be too hot for some teams. One wrong game and you are out or almost. Then there could be a refereeing factor – because even these men tend to not always rise to the occasion. You could have luck on your side or you could kill the game until you make that one attempt to cross the centre pitch and you score. Take away the beautiful game from these competitions and you are not left with much. For those short seconds when a player tries the impossible you get the great rush and feeling of joy that only football can give you.

Then you are brought down to earth and Germany are lifting the trophy. Again.

Notes from an Europa League Final


Part I – A Gozitan Juventus Fan in the Yankees’ Court

The last big sporting event I had attended involved lots of merchandising, an incredible amount of food and drink, a massive stadium full of families, a team with a glorious history and, oh, the sport – something about bats, balls, diamonds and strikes. Thousands of fans were at the Yankee Stadium that day to watch Jeter and Co. go through the motions once again so that they may then crunch the numbers and stats on their way out through the official merchandising shops.

That time match had been rescheduled since the first time round it was “rained out”. That meant that we got the opportunity to queue at a ticketing booth and witness the elaborate but mostly efficient commercial transactions between fans, official team ticket staff and the invisible but very present Stubhub. It was like going to the stock exchange – in the US sites such as Stubhub that serve for the buying and selling of tickets between fans are part and parcel of the goings on. A fan becomes an able commercial transactor – and the wheeling and dealing becomes very much part of being a fan. Nothing seemed wrong there.

Nothing was wrong at all. All tickets were exchanged, rightful owners of tickets who could not attend on the rescheduled day were given different tickets for different days – some negotiated for bunches of tickets including the mysterious “bleachers”, others were content to watch the game that evening. A breeze. Really and truly. We walked out happy with our new tickets and proceeded to watch what I can only subjectively define as a very boring game staged in a magnificent family atmosphere. We stayed as long as we could resist the freezing temperatures having been obliged to buy warm covers to wrap ourselves in.

Part II – “Stasera spacchiamo tutto in citta” (tifoso Benfica)

This time round I was waiting at Gate G of the fantastic Juventus Stadium, surrounded by a mass of excited Benfica and Sevilla fans on the way to witness the 2014 Europa League final. I was there because I had purchased the ticket back in April when Juventus were still in the run, on the eve of a return leg against Lyon. Atheists would call this overconfidence – I call it faith… faith in your team that is the ultimate building block for fandom worldwide. Real fans, they believe. Sadly faith does not always combine with fate and notwithstanding having outshone the portuguese upstarts over two legs Juventus quit the scene at the semifinal stage with the odd goal in three having gone Benfica’s way.

I had a slight problem though. It was staring back at me from my ticket. Twice. There, branded into the ticket officially issued by UEFA right under the price of 150 euro were the words CHOY WAI SHING. Written (for security’s sake) twice – once at the top of the ticket and once at the bottom. That, my friends, was supposed to be the name of the holder of the ticket. Now I consider myself lucky enough to be able to pass myself off as a person coming from a variety of nationalities  all of which have one thing in common – the Mediterranean basin. I can claim to come from anywhere within the range that goes from the Pillars of Hercules all the way to the ports of Tyre and Sidon passing through Rome, Tirana, Marseilles, Algiers, Tripoli, Alexandria and Rhodes. But Choy Wai Shing? Not even with my current hairstyle that is half way to that of a Supreme Korean Leader will I manage that.

I am not alone. Like me there are hundreds, nay thousands, of fans from both sides who are in possession of tickets that very evidently do not have their name on them. It is the result of a new UEFA directive, supposedly coming after complaints by Chelsea fans last year who had to pay exorbitant prices to watch the final. I saw Portuguese with names such as “Peter Coombes” or “Paolo Venditti” on their ticket. At this point we had already tried our luck once. We had all gone to the turnstile and shown our ticket to the steward together with our identity documents. Each one of us had been sent back – refused – even though some of us, like myself, could produce evidence of the transaction that had led to the official purchase of the tickets. The rule was simple – your name is not on the ticket, you are not going in.

Which is why approximately one hour before the game was supposed to start I was having an interesting conversation with two Italian-speaking Benfica fans. “E ridiculo (sic) Se non fanno entrare tutto questa gente noi andiamo giu e spacchiamo tutta la citta”. Let it be known that this was said to me as I was squashed in a growing crowd of refused fans all pressing towards a gate that would not open. It was not just fans of Benfica. I also spoke to Sevilla fans who were in the same predicament. It was not surprising really – anybody could have predicted this.

Part III – Viagogo is a scam

The moment you are sandwiched between portuguese and spanish fans bellowing and belching their anger at everyone and everything your brain begins to distract itself by drawing up a quick hit list of persons and companies that are to be blamed for the current tense situation. Back in April, before the tickets were issued by UEFA I was sure that Juventus would make it to the final. They had to. It would be staged in their own stadium. I was told that the best way to get a ticket was by using Viagogo – an intermediary site that claims to “buy and sell” tickets for major events.

I logged onto their site and found a Category One ticket for the final at a not too moderate price of four hundred seventy euros (470). I reckoned two things – first that it was a fair price to pay for guaranteed tickets for a European Final (that same reckoning would allow up to 1,000 for a Champions’ League). Secondly I reckoned that, given the laws of the market, the price would rise as the final got closer (I would be right on that count). I was totally unaware of the possibility of registering oneself for a draw by UEFA for tickets that would cost 150 euro at this point.

What Viagogo does not tell you at the point of purchase – even though they are fully aware of it – is the following. They do not tell you that at that point they are not in possession of any ticket. They do not tell you that they will be “obtaining” the ticket at a later date when someone will be trying to get rid of his ticket because his team has not made it to the final. Most of all they do not tell you that your name will not be on the ticket – just that of the random unfortunate who wants to offload a ticket that has become useless for his purposes.

You will receive a number of emails following the purchase telling you that it is normal for Viagogo to have tickets sent very close to the event. The excuse they mention is that the tickets are issued very late. In my case it was extremely late. Thanks to a very unhelpful ‘customer care’ system I almost ended up with no ticket at all since the ticket only got to Luxembourg when I was already in Turin. On two different occasions I spoke to customer care reps from Viagogo and specifically requested that my name be on the ticket. On both occasions I was told by Viagogo that the name would not be on the ticket but that it would not be a problem because “UEFA cannot refuse everybody who has an official ticket”.

Part IV – UEFA does not help

But they did. Or at least they tried to do so for a very long time. We became pawns in a power match between UEFA and intermediaries such as Viagogo and the ticket touts. UEFA’s idea of control was to issue the tickets some time around the semifinals and make them nominative – that is strictly linked to the purchaser and non-transferable. The supposed inspiration behind all this is quite sound – keep prices low for fans. It’s a crap way of doing so though.

In the first place this system requires tickets to be issued at an early stage – sometime around the semi-final. That means that you will have at least 50% of the purchasers holding a ticket that they no longer need (for the pagans among you that figure covers the supporters of the two losing semifinalists). By UEFA rules they are not allowed to sell their ticket to anybody else. Ridiculo!

Also if for some reason you have purchased a ticket and suddenly something crops up and you can no longer go then you are lumped with a useless purchase (a UEFA issued ticket cost a fixed price of 150 euros). I met someone who had two tickets from another couple who had to pass on the match because the wife had just given birth. That’s 300 euros of wasted cash should UEFA not allow the ticket to be reused. If you think that these figures might be small and insignificant just think that on the day that the stadium was officially sold out (Juventus Stadium Capacity is at 41,000) the official attendance figure was 33,000. That’s 8,000 unused tickets Monsieur Platini… how’s that for sport?

Part V – Bela Guttmann wins

So what happened? Did I see the match? Well. What happened is this. It became obvious that what Juventus Stadium had on its hands was a mass of dedicated supporters prepared to turn into a mob. As more and more fans got refused entry the stewards suddenly communicated that they were speaking to their superiors to see what could be done. Even the stewards understood the ridiculous nature of the situation.

Meanwhile the fans were trying ingenious ways of getting in. Some ingenious portuguese decided to take UEFA’s rule literally. One guy got a felt tip pen and cancelled out the name on the ticket replacing it with his own. Some absent-minded steward let him in. This led to a rush for pens (I joined this one) and we all got back to the turnstile. No chance. We were refused once again after having been reminded that tickets were non-transferable.

That was the point when I feared the worst. In my mind I had a panic run-through of major football disasters involving uncontrollable crowds. There was a possibility of a rush on the gates but thankfully the crowd seemed much more decent for the moment. The tension did work as a huge eye opener as to how an administrative cock up can lead to tragic consequences – think Heysel, think Hillsborough. It only gets worse when while you are waiting you see the corporate ticket holders walking up to the steward and being allowed in after they are asked to write their name on the ticket. I had never heard of Hankook Tires before and I will never purchase them after this. (Yes, Hankook and HTC were two corporate sponsors with a heavy presence).

So while some of the hotter-headed Benfica fans threatened to do an Attila on Torino and while some Sevilla supporters brought out their repertoire of italian insults the clock was ticking and we were getting closer to missing the final and losing out on loads of money. Then it happened. A steward got the nod. “Let them in” was the order. One last mob crush and we were through the gates.

The rest, as Bela Guttmann would have it, is history.

Football Memories

I hope Roberts Viksne does not mind this but I am posting this documentary that he made as part of his course in video production at the University of Malta. Great work Roberts and thank you for bringing all this information together and presenting it in such a clear and objective manner. For the love of football.


Twisted like Beckham

The man is an icon worldwide. An idol for many. There’s no doubt that this retiring 38 year old millionaire who is apparently in line for a knighthood is one of the most recognisable faces on the planet. Kudos to the soon to be Sir David. Since he hit the scene as a young teenager he has been an incredible sensation. His first goal for United was in a 3-1 loss to Villa – a loss that prompted the great Alan Hansen to mouth the words he’d always regret “You can’t win anything with kids”. (Incidentally Hansen too announced his retirement from Match of the Day this week).

Yes, Beckham was part of an incredible line up of youngsters that would have a brilliant future ahead of them and there’s no denying that the generation of Fergie’s babes went on to perform some magic culminating perhaps in their extra-time scrap victory over Bayern Munich. Beckham spoke in an interview with Gary Neville shortly after his announced retirement and it was immediately obvious that the shadow of his “celeb status” was an uncomfortable burden of which he was only too painfully aware. He knows that he’ll be remembered for “other things” but would prefer to be remembered as a hard-working football player.

The thing is that apart from a hopeless taste in women (Victoria? What were you thinking Becks?) and kicking off a  penchant for funny names for kids, Beckham the man shows a great charisma and personality. His shy presence (and yes, apparent charm for the ladies) work wonders for his PR – and what a brilliantly managed PR that is. What about Beckham the footballer though?

No doubt he is above average. He’s no Messi , no Cruyff, no Pelé. The guy could deliver a cross magnificently and could take wonderful free kicks. Outside the celeb and paparazzi world he probably would not be such a highly ranked player. He could never skip his opponent but when he caressed the ball to pass it, it would generally obey him. You do have to factor what his charisma brought to a changing room as part of his sporting prowess but when it comes to magnificent free kicks and good wing action I believe the football factory in Brasil would suffice to provide a myriad others who could have qualified for the same calibre of ranking.

If you really need names I’ll give you Roberto Carlos, I’ll sell you the Juninhos (both Pernambucano and Paulista) and of course Ronaldinho. Looking a bit backwards there’s the inimitable Rivaldo and free-kick wise I’ll throw in an Eder, a Dunga and the inimitable Branco. That’s just Brasil. They might not have had the charisma that rode on the wave of the “three-lion” marketing of a UK-focused world sport media but hell did they have the quality. This is not to diminish the sporting qualities of Beckham but rather to put this skewered paparazzi-bloated image into perspective.

As for the “numerous great teams” Beckham played with. Well, sure there’s United and Real. After that it’s an abyss of cameo appearances in a Milan struggling to find some sort of shape, a league double with – yep, the mighty LA Galaxy – and finally the dismal showing with Paris Saint Germain (13 appearances, 1 assist, 0 goals, 1 red card). When you are David Beckham you can still talk about going out when on top after the PSG performance. The press will believe you. They want to. Because your face is money. Your image is money. The football does not really count at that point.

Yes, Beckham’s career deserves a nod and a bit more because the lad had an undeniable talent. Jamie Carragher too announced his retirement this week after 737 matches for Liverpool. Another indefatigable player will be hanging up his boots and he too deserves the praise and respect – in a way his story of loyalty makes him much more of the traditional, dying breed of footballing star than Beckham.

So respect to David Beckham for his footballing career. Another above average player leaves the stage. And in many ways football’s loss is ours too… though the celeb status that the likes of Beckham rolled into football will surely not be missed.

At least not for the real football fans.


Il-Patrijott u il-ġakbin

Fiż-żmenijiet ta’ llum fejn il-fruntieri huma anakroniżmu li writna mill-passat il-patrijottiżmu u n-nazzjonaliżmu qajla jagħmlu sens. Għallinqas hekk suppost. Speċjalment f’din l-Ewropa li suppost (suppostissimu) għandha t-tir li tfarrak, tkisser u tnessa dak li jifridna filwaqt li suppost (iktar suppostissimu minn hekk ma nafx) teżalta u tfaħħar id-differenzi li jsawru l-identitajiet pluralistiċi. Et pluribus unum. Safrattant kull stat membru xorta għadu jfittex simboli ta’ identita li jfakkruh fil-kapaċita ta’ niesu (ma ngħidux ġensna għax naqgħu naqa għan-nejk). Fit-“tempi cupi” ta’ kriżi ekonomika fejn il-kumpass morali iġġennen jaf jagħti wens sens ta’ identita. Cerco un centro di gravita permanente.

Illum il-ħdax ta’ Settembru. Nine-eleven. Kienet laqtitni ferm l-espressjoni spontanja madwar id-dinja ta’ solidarjeta mal-vittmi ta’ dak l-attakk skifuż fl-2001. We are all Americans now. Avolja qatt ma nista inħossni Amerikan, lanqas fl-estrem kapitalist materjalistiku tiegħi li jimmanifesta ruħu kulltant, xorta fhimt x’riedu jgħidu. L-empatija, is-solidarjeta kienet fi bżonn ta’ twaħħid ta’ identita. Anki fin-niket kien hemm bżonn rinfurzar ta’ dik l-identita. Dakinhar, f’rokna imbiegħda ta’ moħħi ippermettejt li għal ftit mumenti u għal skop preċiżisimu tittajjar l-iStar Spangled Banner. Oh Say Can You See By The Dawn’s Early Light?

Titwieled u jeħel miegħek timbru. Malti, Lussemburgiż, Amerikan (għax mhux Statunitens?) jew Taljan. Trid jew ma tridx int wieħed minnhom. Ċirkostanzi storiċi setgħu ikkontribwew biex dan it-timbru ivarja ftit saħansitra tul ħajtek. Kien hemm il-Franċiżi ta’ Lorena li saru Ġermaniżi ta’ Lotharingia qabel ma reġghu saru Franċiżi. M’hemmx bżonn immorru daqshekk il-bogħod. Saqsi lill-Kossovari li dil-ġimgħa saru sovrani. Kemm minnhom kienu ukoll Jugoslavi qabel ma inħallet ix-xema ta’ Tito. Imma b’mod ġenerali nistgħu ngħidu li min jitwieled Malti ma jmutx… jien naf, Ingliż.

Mindu insteraq is-sigriet tan-nar mill-allat ta’ l-Olimpu, il-bniedem beda tellieqa teknoloġika li għada sejra sa’ llum. Sar-rinaxximent kull avanz kien ikun ġeneriku – ma tassoċjaħx ma bniedem imma ma’poplu. Jiġuni f’moħħi iċ-ċiniżi u l-ġigġifogu. Imbagħad bdejna nassoċjaw invenzjonijiet ma persuni. U kull nazzjon kburi mal-persunaġġi tiegħu. Il-kult u l-mit tal-kapaċita nazzjonali jissawwar madwar il-varji persunaġġi. Larger than life.

L-apiċi tal-miti nazzjonali għalija narah meta naqra dwar ir-Renju Unit fil-ħamsinijiet. Kien għadu jħoss ruħu kbir. Coronation. Il-konkwista tal-Everest, il-kanal ta’ Suez. Trabbejna f’Malta li xi ftit jew wisq wirtet dan il-mod ingliż ta’ kif issawwar identita. Dan l-aħħar erġajna rajna revival. Bejn il-Ġubilew tar-Reġina u l-Olimpijadi l-Ingliżi skoprew l-kburija f’pajjiżhom. Tfasslu eroj ġodda. Olimpiċi u Paralimpiċi. Rule Britannia once again. Imma dawn ma rebħu l-ebda gwerra. Kienet iktar qisha xi Britain’s Got Talent imma ta vera. U minn Stoke-on-Trent sa Weston-Super-Mare inħass it-terremot ta’ kburija. Proud to be Brit.

Imbagħad rajna lil Joseph Calleja. U xi uħud tkażaw b’kemm fraħna kuntenti u kburin li dak il-ġuvnott libes it-tshirt bis-salib tal-kavallieri u tela fuq palk dinji. Malti. Malti bħali. Qalulna li bla sens nifirħu għax dak wasal hemm bil-ħila tiegħu mhux għax Malti. Seta twieled l-Azerbaijan. U mhux hekk nibqgħu. Iva mela, kullħadd jasal fejn irid jasal b’ħiltu. Jekk hux Tiffany Pisani timmudella jew Joseph calleja ikanta, jew William Chetcuti jispara… kollha stinkaw personalment, m’għandi l-ebda dubju. Pero qiegħdin hemm imgeżwrin bil-bandiera tagħna, għax hawn twieldu u huma ukoll ulied din l-art. Għalina li nehdew bis-suċċessi tagħhom… forsi għax nafu kemm hu diffiċli iktar li toħroġ minn ġo din il-gabuba minn fost il-baħar għira u li tasal x’imkien.

Mhux talli ma nara xejn ħażin li niċċelebraw suċċessi personali ta Maltin oħra u li nikkapparawhom anzi naħseb li għandhom jiġu eżaltati. Għax nazzjon irid ix-xempju, il-mudell. Biex forsi minn għada ikun hemm ħamest itfal oħra De La Salle li jridu jikkuppjaw lil Calleja. Hu kellu biss lil Mario Lanza x’jemula. It-tifel li minn għada se jipprova jintona żewġ linji mit-Turandot għandu lil Joseph x’jirringrazzja. Standing on the shoulders of giants.

U fl-aħħar hemm it-tim nazzjonali. Dak li għadu jkaxkar miegħu memorji ta telfa 12-1 ma Spanja avolja dan l-aħħar ħabbatha tajjeb ma min hu daqsu. Għalija tim nazzjonali hu reliġjon indiskuss. Ibleħ trid tkun biex tgħid li ma tifhimx fil-futbol imma mhux se żżomm ma Malta. Patrijottiku? Forsi. Loġiku, iktar u iktar. Tistħi tgħid li int Malti? Forsi għalhekk qiegħdin fis-sitwazzjoni imnejka li ninsabu fiha. Għax forsi il-kburija, the pride, ilha li saret skarsa. Minflok nistmerru, nitkażaw u nitnejku. Narak tiela l-fuq u dlonk niġbdek l-isfel biex ma tmurx issir aħjar minni.

Statistikament it-tim nazzjonali Malti jirbaħ biss b’miraklu. Soccernomics jgħallmek dan il-fatt. Imma l-kburija li tkun Malti u tħoss l-identita li twaħħad poplu kontra l-avversita u li tiddefinih tmur oltre l-istatistika. Din hija identita li ssilitna għaliha. Mhux kif jgħallmuna l-għażżenin ta’ l-istorja… mhux li xerridna demmna għall-barrani. Le, jien nippreferi nara sens ta’ kontinwita fid-destin ta’ nies din il-gżira. Issilitna dejjem għalina u iva, jekk trid għal uliedna. Survival.

Illejla m’hemmx kummiedji. Illejla m’hemmx ġakbini. Illejla, ma’ l-ewwel noti ta’ l-innu ta’ Robert Sammut konvint li inħossuna kburin li fuq dik il-biċċa ħaxix ġo Modena hemm biċċa minna ukoll. Ħdax-il raġel lesti jagħtu li jistgħu u jagħmluna kburin li aħna Maltin.

Forza Malta!

90o Minuto, calciopoli u Moratti

Jekk kien hemm bżonn li jiċċaqlaq xi ħaġa biex forsi (forsi) tibda toħroġ il-verita dwar l-akkaniment strutturali u medjatiku kontra it-trentakampjoni fl-aħħar dik iċ-ċaqliqa waslet. It-tribunal li ta’ raġuni lil Bobo Vieri u ikkonferma l-attivita ta’ spjunaġġ kondotta mill-Inter u TIM ma kienx tmiem ta’ saga iżda l-aħħar ħolqa ta’ xibka ta’ provi li ser juru fiċ-ċar kif fl-2006 l-ikbar tim taljan kien vittma ta’ komplott dirett lejh maħdum fil-kuriduri ta’ Milan u moħmi iktar fil-kmamar baxxi tar-Ruma ta’ Baldini. Quddiem dawn il-fatti l-għama tat-tifo jirrendi ruħu redikolu u għalxejn tixxejjer il-mantra ta’ ħallelin.

Korruzzjoni lampanti, applikazzjoni perversa u selettiva ta’ liġijiet u prinċipji ad hoc u tranżitorji. Dan kollu frott tal-għira u rabja għal tim li deher li kien se jiftaħ epoka sabiħa ta’ rebħiet u li minflok ġie ikkundannat jiġġerra minn Rimini għal Crotone jistenna il-ġustizzja li bħal Godot ma tasal qatt.

Sejjħulha jekk tridu fissazzjoni. Jekk ma jogħġobkomx taqrawx (jgħid hekk anki Franco) u jekk ma tridux taqraw bis-serjeta dwar dik li wara kollox, iva hija logħba imma hi ukoll dixxiplina, allura taqraw xejn – probabbli anki t-tifo tagħkom għall-benjamini tant puri hija frivola. Araw ftit kif qed tinkixef il-borma li ħadmu tant sew dawk il-menegini misħuta lejn il-bidu ta’ dan is-seklu.

Trenta sul campo.

(artiklu deher fuq www.tuttojuve.com)

Dal caso Vieri alla vergognosa pagina di Calciopoli

Sandro Scarpa

Oggi molti sportivi italiani hanno letto della condanna dell’Inter, obbligata in primo grado a risarcire il suo ex-giocatore Christian Vieri con 1 milione di euro, in solido con Telecom Italia, per spionaggio illegale. Bene, visto che GazzettaCorriere dello Sport e altri quotidiani non sportivi, così attenti in passato a sviscerare le tardive e ondivaghe confessioni del Non Piu’ Credibile Carobbio, pubblica la notizia sganciandola dal quadro complessivo di quella (ennesima) stagione farsesca della Giustizia Sportiva, ci pensiamo noi a fare un breve riassuntino della vicenda.

E’ acclarato che l’Inter utilizzava Telecom (sponsor col patron consigliere Tronchetti Provera) per pedinare non solo suoi giocatori (Vieri, tra gli altri) violando la loro privacy, ma anche (lo sapremo tra pochi giorni) arbitri come De Santis, e dirigenti avversari comeMoggi Giraudo. Nel 2007, con le stesse notizie di reato, la FIGC archiviò invece la posizione dell’Inter (rischiava penalizzazioni pesanti..e ci ricordiamo nel 2007 chi allenava l’Inter e quanto ha vinto..). La Procura (sempre Palazzi) si espresse in questo modo:

“Il Procuratore federale, esaminata la relazione dell’ufficio Indagini sugli accertamenti richiesti dalla Procura federale in ordine a numerosi articoli di stampa riguardanti il comportamento di dirigenti della società Internazionale nei confronti dell’arbitro Massimo De Santis, dei calciatori Christian Vieri, Adrian Mutu, Luis Ronaldo Da Lima Nazario, Vladimir Jugovic e del tesserato Mariano Fabiani, ha disposto l’archiviazione del procedimento, non essendo emerse fattispecie di rilievo disciplinare procedibili ovvero non prescritto.

Procedimento archiviato dunque, la Gazzetta, sospetto per chi maneggia bene la nomenclatura giudiziaria, titola “la FIGC assolve l’Inter”. Quanta differenza con i titoli “Salvi Bonucci e Pepe” a fronte dell’assoluzione in 1° e 2° grado dei due giocatori.

Procediamo. Quei pedinamenti e quello spionaggio industriale ai danni di dirigenti di altre squadre, in altri sport (vedi Formula 1) ha indotto altre Federazioni coinvolte, multe di svariate centinaia di milioni. Nel 2007 (coincidenza) alla McLaren viene infatti comminata una multa da 100 milioni di dollari (basterebbe quasi a far fallire l’Inter?) oltre alla perdita di tutti i punti del campionato precedente. E questo perchè alcuni ingegneri McLaren avrebbe sottratto file mail secretate di colleghi Ferrari. L’Inter invece, da quanto risulta nei processi in corso, intercettava e pedinava direttamente i dirigenti della Juventus, soffiando notizie relative a strategie commerciali e di mercato. Vedremo come andrà a finire in un tribunale ordinario.

Sappiamo cosa è successo invece nell’ampio quadro di Calciopoli. Le telefonate più scottanti e le intercettazioni più “scandalose” (Moggi che si lamenta con designatori..) operate da quella branca occulta della security Telecom che faceva capo a Tavaroli e operava per conto dell’Inter, in qualche modo arrivano al nucleo dei Carabinieri guidati dalColonello Auricchio (un pc di Tavaroli fu rinvenuto negli uffici dello staff di Auricchio). Così Auricchio e i suoi cominciano a loro volta a pedinare Moggi, Giraudo, designatori ed arbitri. Primo alt: ma perchè Auricchio non denunciò innanzitutto le operazioni illegali Telecom? Proseguiamo. Auricchio e i suoi intercettano, ma omettono le intercettazioni traFacchettiMorattiGalliani ed arbitri, che verranno fuori molto tempo dopo. Particolare importante: non ci sono chiamate tra Moggi e arbitri, ma solo ai designatori.

Al tempo stesso, stralci di quelle intercettazioni arrivano “casualmente” alla stampa romana(Il Romanista, Panorama). Ci arrivano precedute da due particolari: il colonello Auricchio è grande amico del dirigente della Roma, Baldini; lo stesso Baldini, intercettato a sua volta al telefono con alcuni esponenti FIGC diceva in quei giorni:” vedrai che farò il ribaltone nel calcio italiano”.

A seguito di queste pubblicazioni illegali, frammentarie e parziali di intercettazioni iniziate in modo illegale (anche se non si ha ancora la certezza), iniziò quindi nell’estate del 2006 il processo sportivo, Calciopoli, definito con ammissione di colpa non indifferente “sommario” dallo stesso Abete solo qualche mese fa.

Nel processo vengono coinvolte, tra le altre, la Juve, la Fiorentina, la Lazio, la Regginae in seconda battuta il Milan, per alcune intercettazioni riguardanti l'”addetto alle relazioni arbitrali” Leonardo Meani. Ma in quel processo non ci fu traccia del coinvolgimento dell‘Inter. Come commissario straordinario della FIGC, chiamato a governare il caos e fare “piazza pulita” venne nominato Guido Rossi, ex-consigliere d’amministrazione ed ex e futuro Presidente Telecom. La storia delle sentenze e della condanne sportive è cosa ampiamente nota. Rossi e gli altri “massacrano” la Juve, inventandosi il reato di illecito strutturato e appellandosi non già alle prove ma al sentimento popolare. La Juve non ricorre al TAR dopo i tempi minimi del processo sportivo per non rischiare radiazioni e per supina accettazione.

Nel frattempo parte il processo ordinario, in cui si scoprono clamorosi errori nelle accuse basate su articoli sportivi errati, calcoli su somme di ammonizioni illogici e altre chicche del genere. Il PM Narducci (assoldato in seguito dal Sindaco De Magistris come Assessore, e dimessosi poche settimane fa) col valido aiuto del Colonello Auricchio (anch’egli assoldato da De Magistris con alti incarichi pubblici, anch’egli carriera fulminante) per anni proclamato il celeberrimo “piaccia o non piaccia, non ci sono telefonate dell’Inter”.

Poi, a spese non dello Stato e delle autorità preposte, ma del cittadino Moggi, negli anni vengono acquisite e sbobinate tutte o quasi le centinaia di migliaia di intercettazioni del gruppo di carabinieri di Auricchio e saltarono fuori clamorose chiamate di Facchetti ad arbitri e designatori, con interventi diretti di Moratti, oltre ad altre inedite chiamate che riguardavano Milan ed altre squadre. A quel punto si disse che le telefonate non avevano rilievi penali –anche se poi Moggi viene condannato in primo grado per “potenziale rete di contatti atta ad alterare il campionato” soprattutto per quelle intercettazioni per delle SIM svizzere attribuite in modo artigianale ad alcuni arbitri e mai intercettate (anche se era possibile farlo) mentre la difesa di Moggi dichiara che erano SIM usate come anti-spionaggio (quanta verità!). In ogni caso, Narducci e i suoi non scoprono, in mesi di pedinamenti e intercettazioni dirette, prove di qualsivoglia alterazione e anzi tentano di ricusare il giudice (strano da parte del PM!).

Tuttavia quelle telefonate interiste (e milaniste) avevano ed hanno valore sportivo pesante e avrebbero portato, se uscite nello stesso periodo di quelle di Moggi, ad una pesante penalizzazione dell’Inter e ad un appesantimento della penalizzazione al Milan che, ricordiamolo, riuscì a beccare una penalizzazioni di punti idonea a non perdere la qualificazione in Champions, poi vinta quell’anno. Lo stesso PM Palazzi, sollecitato dalla Juve (e non dalla FIGC!) a fare chiarezza, nel 2011 sente Moratti, non convocandolo in Procura FIGC, ma incredibilmente andando a trovarlo a domicilio, nel suo ufficio nerazzurro.

Poi, con estrema lentezza (ca. 18 mesi) per sentire il solo Moratti ed analizzare una decina di intercettazioni (quanta differenza rispetto ai processi sbrigativi e fallaci di questa estate con 2 gradi per decine e decine di tesserati in poche settimane!) Palazzi arriva ad una relazione in cui accusa Inter (e ancora Milan, oltre ad altre squadre) di aver evidentemente messo in atto comportamenti atti ad alterare il torneo, attivando di fatti un illecito sportivo (accuse peggiori o quantomeno simili a quelle a Moggi, per la quale era stato “inventato” ex-novo il reato di illecito strutturato..).
A quel punto quindi l’Inter, per quei reati per i quali dovrebbe comunque difendersi in un processo sportivo (abbiamo visto quali armi spuntate hanno gli accusati) meriterebbe la retrocessione, oltre ovviamente alla revoca dello Scudetto tolto alla Juve e magari la revoca di qualche altro scudetto.

Ma, come tutti già sapevano, i reati sono prescritti, per pochi mesi. Palazzi avrebbe potuto fare in tempo -lo sapeva- eppure lascia trascorrere i termini e, non solo, invece di deferire l’Inter e Moratti, i quali a quel punto avrebbero potuto appellarsi alla prescrizione ( o rinunciarci andando a processo per chiedere l’assoluzione, anche in nome del compianto Facchetti), Palazzi indica i reati come “prescritti” già nella sua relazione. E Moratti tace e acconsente, dichiarando però ai giornali: “Le parole di Palazzi sono infondate, pericolose e stupide“. Non si ricordano interventi di Petrucci a difesa del Procuratori.

Ciliegina sulla torta: la prescrizione per questi reati sportivi è cambiata subito dopo Calciopoli, accorciandosi ovviamente.

Non ricordiamo poi cosa è accaduto in FIGC quando Andrea Agnelli ha in sintesi rivendicato, vista i reati prescritti all’Inter, quantomeno la revoca del famoso Scudetto di Cartone (o assegnato in Segreteria, che dir si voglia): la FIGC si reputa incompetente nel decidere cosa fare e comunque scopre che non c’è alcun atto di delibera di assegnazione dello Scudetto all’Inter, ma solo un comunicato all’UEFA con la nuova classifica, al netto delle squadre squalificate.

Ieri la giustizia ha condannato l’Inter per Vieri, una piccola piccolissima notizia, una faccenda quasi insignificante. Eppure il destino della Juve dai 91 punti e dagli 8 finalisti di Berlino (più Ibra Nedved), l’epopea dell‘Inter del triplete, del Milan vincitore di Champions, e in definitiva la storia recente del calcio italiano germoglia da lì, da quelle piccole faccende.

Ma ci si interroga più volentieri se ad essere epulso doveva essere Danilo piuttosto cheBrkic.