In the United States, being a whistleblower can get you 104 million dollars, even if you initially participated in the criminal activity you ultimately have a part in exposing.
In Italy, it can leave you without a job, ostracized from the sport you love and had the dignity and strength to protect.
You might remember the case of Simone Farina, a little known defender from Lega Pro outfit Gubbio, whose testimony came at a vital time in the breaking of the Calcioscommesse scandal still reverberating through Italian football.
Farina was rewarded with an Azzurri call up for a friendly match and praised across Italy for his actions. He was even declared a Football for Hope ambassador by FIFA at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in January.
But months later, his contract with Gubbio rescinded (supposedly amicably and by mutual agreement) a 30-year-old with years of experience near and in Serie B can’t even get a free transfer on minimum wage. Ridiculous, considering someone even wanted Michael Owen.
There was apparently talk of him getting a contract with Aston Villa, not to play, but to perform a role teaching young footballers about fair play. Understandably still wishing to play, Farina declined, but with the transfer window now closed in Italy this former “hero” is without a club.
Now the walking embodiment of the adage “no good deed goes unpunished” Farina finds himself in a similar situation to others who have criticized the powers that be in Italy: silenced and ignored.
It’s shameful really, but damnit Serie A, I just can’t quit you.
Notable Results from Round 2
Milan got their campaign back on track with a 3-1 win at Bologna. Inter import Giampaolo Pazzini was the hat-trick hero.
The Juve Juggernaut continues to roll after a 4-1 rough away to a reeling Udinese side.
Roma brought high Inter hopes back down to earth with a 3-1 victory at the San Siro.
Lazio continue to show fine form beating Palermo soundly 3-0 in Rome, while Napoli took care of a reloaded Fiorentina side 2-1.
Catania and Genoa surprised with a 3-2 thriller with the Sicilians victorious, and Sampdoria’s dream return to the top flight continued with a 2-1 win over Siena.
What to Watch in Round 3
Not too many savory matchups to the untrained eye this week, but their could be a few upsets brewing.
Torino spanked lowly Pescara at home last weekend, which will give them confidence when Inter comes to town on Sunday. They will be inspired by Novara’s double over the Nerazzurri last year and could spring a shock, although Inter will want to put last weeks trouncing by Roma behind them as well.
Udinese have floundered after heartbreakingly failing to reach the Champions League group stages yet again this year, and they go into Parma to face a side coming off a solid 2-0 win over Chievo Verona.
Genoa will be the latest side to try to end Juve’s consecutive win streak in Serie A play, and Ciro Immobile takes on his biggest opponent yet in the Old Lady and goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon. Could it happen? Yes. Will it happen? No.
My pick for match of the week though is Fiorentina hosting Catania. The Elefanti have proven they can consistently play a quality, high-energy brand of football and La Viola are still seeking to validate the renewed expectations hoisted on their shoulders this season. I won’t predict the result, but I do see goals in this one.
One of my favorite storylines in calcio at the moment is the absurd situation still brewing around none other than Dimitar Berbatov. You’ll remember that the Bulgarian was on his way to Fiorentina before a call from Fulham re-routed him to England. He ultimately signed on with the London outfit, but now La Viola are demanding to be reimbursed for the plane tickets used by Berbatov and his agent. In principle, Fiorentina have a point, but it takes a pretty ridiculous PR move like this to make yourself look like a baby in relation to the man, the myth, the Boobatov. If they can afford Alberto Aquilani, surely they can afford the lost airfare.
And I cannot fail to mention that this will be the first in twenty years that there is no Alessandro Del Piero at any level of Italian football. Del Piero completed a move to Australian A-League outfit Sydney FC last week, ending a remarkable career in Italy that saw him win 6 Scudetti (8 if you ask Juve fans) along with a Serie B title, one Coppa Italia, 4 Italian Super Cups, a Champions League trophy (as well as 3 runners-up medals), and numerous individual honors including top scorer in Serie A, Serie B, and twice in the Champions League.
I’m no fan of the Bianconeri, but Del Piero is one of the true gentlemen of the game and one of the greatest second strikers of all time. Serie A won’t be the same without him.