Belfast Telegraph

Football authorities must act firmly to quell corruption fears or risk being under a constant cloud of suspicion

Editor's Viewpoint

It is too simpiistic to blame the vast sums of money sloshing around English football, particularly in the Premier League, for all the ills in the game and for the apparent greed of some managers who are said to have taken illegal payments in transfer dealings. Though money, as ever, is a large part of the problem.

The sting which led to England manager Sam Allardyce being virtually forced to resign seemed to confirm that those most closely involved in playing or managing are motivated by greed, even though they are already in receipt of riches beyond belief.

However, it should be noted that in 1964, when football was an infinitely poorer sport, 10 English professionals were jailed for match-fixing and in recent years this has been a problem in Italy.

But what this latest scandal - much of it yet to be proven true or false - has done, is make fans more cynical. They already know that all the clubs in the top echelons of the game think of them is as merchandising fodder and a source of ready revenue through sky-high admission prices.

There is little or no relationship between fans and players who are earning vast sums of money at an early age. So fans will have little sympathy for anyone found guilty of corruption or mere greed. And deep down they will be grateful to the journalists who have exposed a sordid underbelly of the game. Claims of entrapment don't hold water, but rather this was in the best traditions of journalism, holding up to the light a story that was evidently in the public interest. It was also a timely reminder to those who would curtail the freedom of the press, that the media is possibly the only sector of society with the ability and resources to uncover scandals like this and, as such, should be cherished, not chastised.

What needs to happen now is that the football authorities prove they will probe the allegations of corruption fearlessly - otherwise football will join cycling and athletics as sports under a veil of constant suspicion.

Belfast Telegraph


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