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Bravo Italia

I am enjoying the arrests and ongoing investigations into Italian football matchfixing - it has been a long time coming, and for a country so entrenched in corruption, organised crime and simple acceptance of both, it has been heart-warming to see they are finally getting the message. If Italy really wants to be regarded as one of the premier football nations of the world, then it's time it cleaned up its act. Former Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni has admitted betting on fixed matches, only because it was his team set up to win. He is one of 16 players to have been arrested just before Christmas.

But the best gesture of the week goes to Italian national team coach, Cesare Prandelli. He will reward the player who blew the whistle on match-fixing, Gubbio defender Simone Farina, with an invitation to train with the national team. Prandelli is intent on improving the image of Italian football, suspending any player from the national team who has been disciplined for unsportsmanlike conduct at club level, and any player who gets into trouble off the field. I wonder how Fabio Capello feels about that policy....


Match-fixing whistle blower to train with Italy

ROME (AP) -- Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is planning to reward the Italian match-fixing whistle blower by letting the previously little-known Gubbio defender train with the national team.

"It's a way to thank him and underline what he represents,'' Prandelli told Italian daily La Repubblica on Friday. "He didn't just show courage, he also showed extraordinary inner strength.''

Last month, Simone Farina was approached and offered ?200,000 ($260,000) to influence the outcome of an Italian Cup match between Cesena and Gubbio on Nov. 30. The player refused and reported the incident to the police, and when the news broke alongside the arrests of 17 people across Italy on Monday, Farina was hailed as a hero.

Judicial officials said Monday that Farina was approached by his former teammate from Roma's youth system, Alessandro Zamperini, who was among those arrested.

The money Farina might have received would have been more than double his salary.

"Gestures like that don't come easy in the lower divisions,'' Prandelli said. "Now it's up to us not to abandon him.''

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