Match-fixing whistle blower to train with Italy

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.”

Farina will likely train with Italy ahead of a planned friendly
against the United States on Feb. 29. He won’t play in the
match.

”From a technical standpoint it can’t be a real call-up, but
it’s the message that counts,” Prandelli added.

The move falls in line with Prandelli’s initiative to restore
pride to the national team after an embarrassing first-round exit
from last year’s World Cup. Prandelli replaced Marcello Lippi
immediately after the tournament in South Africa and besides
leading the squad to a first-place finish in its European
Championship qualifying group he has been keen on promoting social
values.

Last month, Italy trained on a pitch that was confiscated from
the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate to show its support in
the fight against organized crime.

Also, players that get suspended from their clubs for
unsportmanlike conduct, or who get into trouble off the pitch, are
also automatically suspended from the national team.

”This is also another sign of continuity on our road toward
combatting ‘omerta,”’ Prandelli said, using the Italian word for
‘code of silence’ that is associated with organized crime in the
country.