May 11, 1995	Havelange vs. Maradona: DeFelice's columns (Loris Magnani)
Mar 30, 1997	Kurt Rothlisberger (Snaps, Daily Telegraph)
May 14, 1997	The referee scandal in Brazil (Ariel Mazzarelli, augusto)

1. Havelange vs. Maradona: DeFelice's columns 
Subject: Re: FIFA rankings...Objective
From: (Loris Magnani)
Date: May 10, 1995

>line. So no matter how many conspiraty stories I tell, or how many bloodlines
>are revealed, it still goes down to the bottom line. And mark my words
>Italy will win a fourth before Argentina wins a third! It's FIFA's way
>of thinking as well. No on likes Argentina, and they all love the Italians.
>This is because they are most respectfull than Argentina, and respect wins
>over crying!

I have no excuse for getting involved in this ridiculous thread, but I feel
compelled to point out that if both Argentina and Italy disappeared from the
face of the map, the high dignitaries of FIFA in Zurich would be very happy.
Blatter and the Swiss guy with the italian name who is under Blatter DESPISE
Matarrese and italian soccer.  Before the World Cup I read a slew of articles
in various italian publications claiming that this intense dislike for Italy
would translate into not getting "favorable" referees for key matches.  I 
think the refereeing was very reasonable towards Italy in the WC so I'm not
claiming this happened. But the PERCEPTION that FIFA hates the Italian 
federation is widespread in Italy.  

Like many people, I am of the opinion that there was subterfuge involved in
the Maradona affair.  I think Maradona was double-crossed by FIFA and his
ban for taking  that ephedrine-based drug was completely and absolutely 
ridiculous.  Gianne DeFelice wrote two columns about this in Il Guerin
Sportivo and if even 10% of what he writes is true, then there is more 
dirt involved in soccer than we care to know about.

Finally, a word on the Oriundi.  I was born in Italy and I am now a
United States citizen.  If I had children I would consider them to be
Americans, not italians.  Certainly they would be italian-americans but
I would expect them to play for the United States team...However, 60
years ago, because of the geopolitical climate the regulations were
different and the PERCEPTION of what a person's heritage meant were different.
To deny that is to deny history, or worse, to project current thinking onto
a completely different mindset.  The argentinians, uruguyans, and 
brasilians who played for Italy in the 30's, 40's, 50's, and 60's are
known in Italy as Oriundi, not as italians.  We are very proud of our
oriundi but we don't deny that they were not born in Italy.  By the way,
do you argentinians know that both Balbo and Sensini are now Italian
citizens in addition to having an argentinian passport?

What I want to know is why Italy is the only country that always gets 
criticized for having had oriundi players.   Di Stefano played for Spain, 
half the old Austrian team played for the Germans in 1938 after the Anschluss 
and even in recent times the Irish national team is filled with players not 
born in Ireland  and where do you think Belgium's Scifo was born?. 
So what gives?   Why not just accept that the paradigm has changed 
so that a player like Weah can never play for France even though he is
a French citizen and a player like Desailly can never play for Ghana even
though he was born there.  

Finally, M.J.P., before criticizing the argentinians for (often) being
poor sports, you should look to make sure your own house is in order first.
Some of worst and most embarassing displays of poor sportsmanship that I have
ever seen were done by italians and italian teams.  It is something that
we should all be embarassed about.

From: (Loris Magnani)
Subject: Havelange vs. Maradona: DeFelice's columns
Date: May 11, 1995

Daniel Windler writes:

>  What did he write?  I think that there was certainly something
>marginally fishy going on since Maradona was suspended for 15 months for
>the same offense that Caldere only got a 1 game suspension for in 1986,
>but I don't think that entirely extricates him from blame, nor does it
>confirm an anti-Argentine conspiracy that has been going around since
>1990.  The thing that puts many doubts in my mind is that FIFA has never
>come out and said exactly what hapenned.

OK, first let me say that Gianni DeFelice is, in my opinion, an outstanding
sports writer. He is in his 60s and he has been writing for Il Guerin Sportivo
(GS) for many years.  I will translate excerpts from both articles.

In issue #4 of this year's GS, DeFelice had a column on the power struggle
within FIFA to see who will succeed Havelange.  In the middle of the article
was the following note on USA 94 which I translate from the Italian:

"In the meantime, the American World Cup takes place, and it is one of the
worst.  The local organization for the press is simply horrible.  The Maradona
affair is so dirty that it leads one to defend an indifensible character
such as the ex pibe-de-oro: FIFA bends the rules and perhaps makes some
promises of immunity in order to bring Maradona to USA 94 so that by
throwing around his irresistible name they can rake in the money from
sponsors, networks, and the public.  However, when it becomes clear that
Maradona is, in fact, not finished as a player and that his Argentina is
playing the best soccer at the World Cup, the surprising torpedo of the
doping affair (completely unexpected by poor Diego) is launched.  Why
is this done?  Evidently to pave the way for the mediocre brasilian
national team whose federation is presided over by, guess who, Teixeira,
son-in-law of Havelange and recently elected to the Executive Committee
of FIFA."
  (Translator's note: the earlier part of the article has to do
with the not-so-subtle machinations of Havelange to have Teixeira succeed him).

The article goes on to discuss the schemes which Havelange wants to employ
to ensure that his chosen succesor will someday rule FIFA.

Apparently, the somewhat vague paragraph above caused a storm of indignation
in South America, both in Brasil and Argentina.  So much so, that the
following issue of Il Guerin Sportivo (#5 1-7 February) had a rebuttal
to the accusations of Grondona (head of the argentinian federation) to
DeFelice. In a nutshell, Grondona claimed that GS was trying to start a
war between American and European soccer and that Matarrese (head of
the italian federation) was behind this.

I won't translate all of DeFelice's rebuttal but the salient parts are
as follows:

"...It was the head people of FIFA who pressured Ferlaino (the then owner
of Napoli while Maradona had been banned for cocaine) to the maximum so that
he would accept the precarious offer made by Seville which allowed Maradona
to return to the field of play.  A star of such magnitude, they explained,
cannot be allowed not to take part in USA 94.  In this way,
 Maradona knew that the
heads of FIFA strongly desired his presence at the WC and  under their
auspices his recovery (to the world of soccer) was made. Thus, Maradona
either obtained a secret promise or was led to believe - as a protected
pupil - that some special treatment would be given to him.  Certainly,
if ever a case of doping was pardonable morally it was this one: at
34 years old after 2 long interruptions (of his career) he had to undergo
an intense training and medical conditioning in order to lose weight,
get in shape, and thus fulfill the desires of FIFA to have him take part
in the WC.  Without doubt Maradona and his trainer knew perfectly well
the contents of the list of prohibited substances, but they also knew
- as we all know - that traces of doping, when you don't want to find
them, they are not found.

This is what I (i.e., DeFelice) believe happened.  With all respect to the
medical profession we have to recognize that the credibility of the
antidoping system has been compromised by too many strange "coincidences".
Ben Johnson is clean at the World Championships in Rome in 1987, but
drugged at the Seul Olympics in 1988: same trainer, same masseuse, same
pumped up muscles, but - looky, looky - what has changed over the course of
the year is his brand of shoes."  (translator's note: DeFelice his referring
to a different sponsor for Johnson)

He goes on to list other examples from track and field ending with this
interesting note on the former east german sprinter, Krabbe, who was suspended
from the Barcelona Olympics...
"Perhaps Krabbe wasn't the only german athlete to dope herself up, but she
was the ONLY important german athlete to wear an american brand of shoes".

He goes on to make the case that the antidoping process has become yet another
instrument in the war between the great sponsor houses of athletic equipment.
In other words, whether someone tests positive for illegal subtances is often
not a function of whether there are illegal substances or not in his/her
bloodstream but of other considerations.

And he goes on to add:
"And so with all the above in mind, how can we not ask ourselves, who benefits
most from the exclusion of Maradona by the antidoping process?
And how can we not answer, Brasil above all?  And so I confirm that in my
(i.e., DeFelice's) opinion in WC 94 Maradona was victim of a cynical ploy
to use his fame."

The article makes a few further comments on the succession of Havelange but
the gist of the Maradona case is as I've translated.

What do I think of the above?

Well, I remember that there WAS considerable pressure on Ferlaino to sell
Maradona to Seville even though that club was having a devilish time trying
to put together a legitimate offer.  It seems that during that time
FIFA was definitely interested in having Maradona fit once again and
ready to participate in WC 94.

It also is inconceivable that a sports doctor would not know that
ephedrin-based substances were forbidden, but it is is just as
inconceivable to me that the punishment for this offense was a multi-month
ban.  The punishment does NOT fit the crime (very minor in my opinion...I
would have just fined Maradona and allowed him to play the rest of the WC).

Subtracting Maradona from the Argentinian team was a devastating move.
There can be no doubt about that.  I could see a long suspension if he
had tested positive for cocaine or a REAL performance-enhancing drug.
But not an ephedrin-based concoction.  At the time I was puzzled, and
like David, I expected in the ensuing weeks an explanation for the
harsh sentence from FIFA.  This explanation has never come.

I don't believe, as a recent thread espouses, that WC winners are determined
beforehand.  I DO believe that the powers that be at FIFA try to manipulate
things so as to give their favorite teams an edge.  This is not the
same as fixing matches, but it's not too clean either.  In Italy people
have speculated for a long time that it was the late Artemio Franchi
(ex-president of UEFA) who ensured that in the 82 WC the referees for
Italy-Argentina and Italy-Brasil would be the types of referee who condoned
"hard" play.  If that's true then it is no surprise that the brutal marking
of Gentile on Maradona first and Zico second would not result in an
expulsion.  We had a discussion about this topic during the recent WC in
the Roberto Ricca's italian soccer discussion group and Ricca put forth
the theory (before the game was played!)
 that Matarrese would demand that a "friendly" referee be used
in the quarterfinal game against Spain.  You can decide for yourself
whether Puhl (who would also ref the final) was friendly to Italy or not.
The idea here is that the heads of the various powerful federations get
one favor during a tournament such as the WC.  This is not match-fixing,
but having a friendly referee certainly helps. Presumably Havelange (or
Teixeira, if you wish) got his one "favor" in getting a pro-brasilian

referee for the semifinal against Sweden.

Let me underscore for the "thick-headed" out there that this type of
behind the scene manipulation is not the same as sitting down and
deciding who should win and who should lose. Having a friendly referee is
no guarantee of victory...but it does help.

Another time, if there's any interest, we can discuss why a team like
AC Milan in 1979/80 would want to fix a game AT HOME against a middle of
the table Lazio team and a powerful Olympique Marseille team would want
to fix a game against a third from last team in that fateful May of 1993.
>From a logical point of view, why do powerful teams want to fix games that
they should win without any help? Like the aftermath of the
Maradona incident, it makes no
sense...but that is a story for another day.


Article: 167337 of
From: (Loris Magnani)
Subject: Re: Havelang vs. Maradona: DeFelice's columns (long)
Date: 16 May 1995 15:35:33 -0500

Bruce Scott writes:

>For what it is worth, the preceding by DeFelice strikes me as idiotic
>ocnspiratorial nonsense of the sort we've seen in this newsgroup between,
>e.g., Brasil and Holland, Argentina and Holland, Brasil, Peru and
>Argentina, etc. etc.  It just never ends.
>Does this guy always write stuff like that?

Skepticism in cases like this is important.  It is all too easy to cry
out "It's a fix!" when some result which is perceived as unfair by one
side comes out...Maybe it is all a tempest in a teacup.  But I do worry
about how clean soccer is.  Not so much for these WC incidents but for
incidents in somewhat less of the limelight.

Two betting scandals which I have followed reasonably closely really bother
me:  They are the scandal in 1980 which sent Milan down to the second
division for the first time and the more recent scandal involving Olympique
Marseilles.  They bother me because if they happened just as reported, then
there is something which doesn't quite make sense.  Let me quickly go
through the salient points of each case.

Milan 1980.  Two (or more) players from Lazio approach Albertosi (Milan's
goalie) and offer to fix a game between Milan and Lazio to be played in
San Siro.  Milan will end that season in third place and Lazio will end that
season in 13th place (out of 16) with a record of 5W 15T and 10L .
Albertosi tells Colombo, Milan's president. Colombo will later claim that the
offer is so absurd he doesn't do anything about it. However, later he DOES
send Giorgio Morini (a minor Milan player) to Rome to pay off either the
Lazio players or some other characters, ostensibly not to throw the game,
but rather to keep quiet about the fix attempt.  You see, since Colombo did not
immediately report the fix attempt according to italian soccer federation
rules he is guilty.  Now, whether he paid $$$ to keep players quiet about
the fix attempt or whether he paid $$$ to get the Lazio players to throw
the game is irrelevant.  According to italian rules, he is guilty either
way and Milan's relegation is certain at the end of the season (I believe
the scandal really exploded a few months later in March or April). The
consequences of the scandal are that Milan is relegated, Colombo, Albertosi,
and Morini are banned for life or enough years to basically end their

Here's my problem with the above scenario.  Lazio has NEVER done well in
San Siro. If you wish I can look up the alltime records, but I assure you
Milan-Lazio almost always ends up as a victory for Milan or no worse than
a tie.  Especially considering the differential between the two teams (recall
Milan will finish third, they were the defending champion). Lazio will finish
13th, just above regular relegation, and the year before they finished 8th.
So where does a fair-to-poor team come off offering a bribe to lose a game
in the home stadium of the defending champion...a game
they almost surely would have lost anyway?????  It doesn't make sense
IF THIS IS AN ISOLATED INCIDENT.  It DOES make sense if this is the normal
modus operandi or at least a fairly common occurrence.  Now if you say
that the reason the fix attempt was made was because outside people were
going to bet heavily and wanted to be assured of a Lazio loss (with 100%
certainty) then that's fine, too. But again, that incident couldn't have been
the only time that such a fix attempt was made.

My point is, that unless this is a common occurrence, then there is no
logic in trying to fix that isolated game.  And if it is a common occurrence
then what does that say about the italian first division?

The OM case is similar.  Here is one of arguably the five strongest teams
Europe has seen in the last decade trying to fix a game against Valenciennes.
A team in the relegation zone.  We all know how strong the teams are in the
lower part of the French first division...What possible LOGIC is there in
wanting to fix that game.  The argument that the players didn't want to go
hard so they could rest up for Milan makes no sense to me.  They have four
days to recover, a team bolstered with 4 or 5 backup players could still have
beaten Valenciennes...Why should OM desire to fix this PARTICULAR game?
Again, taken as an isolated incident, it makes no sense. It only makes sense
if it's part of a global pattern.

These incidents plus Chapter 6 of Brian Glanville's book  on EC1 (the chapter
is titled "The Years of the Golden Fix", plus the shenanigans which ALWAYS
occur in Serie A at the end of the season between teams which have nothing to
play for and teams fighting against relegation (the episodes involving Milan
the past two years are nothing new to veteran Serie A watchers), plus the
rumors about Poland-Italy in 1974, Argentina-Peru in 1978, Italy-Cameroon in
1982 just puts too many questions in my mind.

I re-iterate from an earlier post: I don't think the winner of something
like a World Cup or even an EC1 is decided in advance.  However, not all
is clean and white with our beloved game and there are questionable
episodes here and there which DO affect who will win in the end.  And this
is the shame.  Not outright fixes, not bribing referees, but subtler
manipulations and ways to gain an advantage.  A strong team when given
a non-sporting advantage (like a referee with a track record of
refeereing favorably for a team) will seldom lose...This is not to say
that the referee is bought off, but think about it, if I referee a Milan
game I can't help but call things in Milan's favor.  That's how I see them...
Nobody needs to pay me off, my subconscious biases will do the rest.

>And further.... it is exactly as I predicted a year before the cup: we will
>never get proper credit for having defeated Colombia.

Don't worry, Bruce, I predict the US will pull at least one stunning
upset at the Copa America.


2. Kurt Rothlisberger
Subject: Cantona was right about the 'cheating ref'
From: Snaps 
Date: March 30, 1997 (Markian) wrote:
>And it is such a pity that we are seeing one of Europe's most well known
>referee's, banned for life.  Why?  Cheating.

This referee is Kurt Rothlisberger, the man who took charge of the
infamous Galatasaray-ManU game 4 years ago (and also the equally
controversial Belgium-Germany game in WC94). After the Gala-ManU game
Eric Cantona, exasperated by the minuscule 8 seconds of injury-time that
was added to a game that contained long minutes of incredibly overdrawn
time-wasting, called Rothlisberger a cheat, for which he received a 4
match ban.

Can we assume that UEFA will now be issuing reparations to Cantona and
his team?

From: the Daily Telegraph [posted by (RED DEVIL)]
Subject: Cantona right about cheating ref

     Swiss referee Kurt Rothlisberger, once accused by Eric Cantona on
French television of "taking a bung," has been banned for life by UEFA  
for attempted bribery.

     Rothlisberger admitted contacting Erich Vogel, the general
manager of  Grasshopper Zurich, in Oct, 1996, regarding their
Champions' League  tie against Auxerre, who had won the first leg 1-0.

     He asked whether Grasshopper would be interested in Vadim Zhuk
(Belarus) not giving decisions against the Swiss club in the return  
game with "financial compensation" in the region of  45,000 mentioned.     
Rothlisberger said this could be arranged as he was friendly with Zhuk.

     Vogel informed UEFA and Rothlisberger was yesterday banned from
all games connected with UEFA and FIFA. UEFA's investigations into
Zhuk have not been completed. Grasshopper won the match 3-1.

     Three years earlier, Rothlisberger was the subject of Cantona's
frustration at the end of Manchester United's Champions' League game 
against Galatasaray in Istanbul which ended 0-0.

     Cantona made an obscene gesture at the official and went on
television  to accuse him of "taking a bung". The gesture and words
brought him a  four-match ban.

3. The referee scandal in Brazil
Subject: No swiss-style brasucas, please
From: (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Date: May 14, 1997

The AFA and the FPF have both requested that the referee initially 
assigned to the next WC qualifier in Buenos Aires between Argentina and 
Peru be changed, in light of the revelations that the head of the CBF 
referee division Iven Mendes (a close associate of the head of the CBF, 
Teixeira, who is also Havelange's son-in-law) was scheming to bribe him 
in the notorious Atletico Paranaense-Vasco da Gama match recently played 
in Brasil.

The referee, Oscar Godoi, has denied having done anything wrong, but the
revelation on tv shows of a taped conversation between Mendes and the 
president of A. Paranaerense has pretty much sunk that bit of pretense, 
at least to the extent that a specific scenario described in the telephone 
conversation (a red card for Edmundo) took place just like the conversation 
suggested that it would.

In light of these revelations, the South American futbol federations are
reconsidering the current motif of assigning brasuca referees to the WC
qualifying games as, perhaps, not being the optimal way to bring about
impartial whistles.

The experienced RSSer is not surprised by the notion that the brasucas are
friendly towards notions of winning games off the field with whatever help
is available, but, apparently, there are those that are, like Claude Rains
in Casablanca, shocked--SHOCKED to discover that there is high-level
corruption in the CBF that is seriously affecting the competitive nature
of futbol and directing it towards that place currently occupied by
professional wrestling.

Subject: Re: Brasuca referees a la Switzerland
From: (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Date: May 13, 1997

Luiz Filipe F Pereira  wrote:
>> Oh dear. This may cause Brasil to be excluded from the next two
>> World Cups.
>Only in your very sweet dreams Ariel.

I suppose the irony was lost on you. It wouldn't happen to be the first 
time, would it?

>> At least, that is what happened to Chile and Mexico, for lesser offenses.
>> Will FIFA be kinder and gentler on the brasucas?
>Can you post what were the offenses against Chile and Mexico? If though 
>that it had involved International games.

Indeed they did, but the point in the Mexican case was that it involved
the officials from the federation. OTOH, organizing a systematic bribery
of referees is a bit more serious than fudging a few birth dates, hmmmm?

As for Chile, the amazing thing is that the brasucas got away with firing
a flare at the opposing goalkeeper without any significant sanction.

Now, maybe, you see the irony? No? Got too much brasuca propaganda in
your head still? Give it time.

>The president of CBF is the brother-in-law (or something like that) of 
>Havelange, so my guess is that this will be finish in Pizza.

Yes. This is what I think too. It's not like anybody cares about whether
the game is fair, right?

>But keep trying Ariel... you might one day still see the Brazilian soccer 
>going down! 

So let's get this straight: you don't mind that the head of your refereeing
division at the CBF deals out bribes with the clubs? Do you understand that 
this essentially makes the whole game a fraud?

We are not talking about the ocassional smelly cheese, which is what the
Swiss put out there. This is the guy in charge of the referees in Brasil.

So, as far as I'm concerned, Brasil's game, in some sense, is already
"down". You still have great players, of course, but the competition is an
outright fraud. You might as well watch professional wrestling.

If FIFA were to take a strong stand against this, then maybe the rest of the
world would fight this problem with more conviction. Instead, the hypocrisy
will encourage more of this crap. All just because the brasucas have to have 
their little privileged status, no matter what it does to the game itself.

ESPN, you can keep the brasuca futbol off my screen for now, I don't mind.
Let them fix this first. Meanwhile I'll watch Hulk Hogan on another network.

Subject: Clarifying the referee scandal in Brazil
Date: Sat, 24 May 1997 16:00:48 GMT
From: (augusto)

A few things that might be worth knowing about the recent referee
scandal in Brazil :

1- Brazil is in fact a corruption-plagued country, this is no news.
The current regime still has a way to go until we can confidently call
it "democratic". Many retrograde aspects of the military dictatorship
were fortunately wiped out in the recent years, but some still are at
work. The political rules are still object of  manipulation by the
conservative groups of power which delay the consolidation of a
trustable party system. Freedom of information is a myth, easily
proven untrue. And, among other things, nothing is really done about
corruption issues except when one powerful group finds it convenient.
        One major example of this was the impeachment process of elected
president Collor de Mello. Many naive brazilians believed it was a
true sign of new times. Seemed that simple. Followed by the "7 anoes"
congress inquiry commission. Some scapegoats were chosen, just to give
the appearance that the evil had been removed. In fact though, other
evils were consolidating their shares of power.

2- It also causes no surprise that, under such domain, different sorts
of corruption ramifications have developed. Over the years, there has
been reports about soccer lottery gamblers bribing players. Bribed
referees is something denounced every once in a while, but no proof
comes out and often to process at all is brought up. What has been
recently denounced was known 4 years ago when a referee spoke out
against the director of the Referee Department, Ives Mendes, who had
asked him to favor a team in a game in Para' state.

3- What's happened now ?  Anonymous tape recordings have been
produced, revealing that those old accusations were in fact true. The
director was caught in conversation with club directors clearly
proposing to arrange results in return for financial support to his
future political campaign. All of sudden, an artillery of headlines
and press stories were launched aiming SOME of the involved people.
Minister Pele' and President F.H. Cardoso were "shocked" to hear about
and the spread word was that "something should be done urgently".

4- A congress commission is created to investigate. To end up presided
by a traditional Vasco da Gama director,  himself often related to
accusations of suspicious activities. Part of the commission walked

5- It became obvious that CBF's president either knew about the
corrupted scheme or at least was responsible for not having given
importance to the revelations of 4 years ago. But at the congress
commission, Ricardo Teixeira had an afternoon-tea kind of friendly
meeting with nobody really questioning him about the serious events.

6- The tv/press Globo network, a virtual TV monopoly in the country,
aimed decidedly at Atletico-PR's president, dedicating special stories
suggesting unlawful procedures had been done by the club from Parana'.
Stories rich in details, journalists especially assigned for. No
similar thing was produced about the rest of clubs accused, except for
quite more prudent approach towards Corinthians's president,
occasionally highlighted.

7- The source of the tapes has not been revealed, leaving in the air
the question:  how Globo got it ?  Recently a yet more serious issue
had come out of video tapes showing police violence. Globo paid for
the videos and the camera man was known. In the referee issue, is was
something "anonymously" given. No one knows who gave, no one discloses
who got it or how.

8- Wire-tapping is against the law, justice will not accept the
recordings as evidence. During the conversation with Corinthians
president, this one even talks about numbers with the referee
In the recording with Atletico-PR's president, no word is heard from
him that clearly demonstrates any agreement with Mendes's explicit
suggestion to fix the result against Vasco da Gama. All he says is ask
which referee would be designed.

9- Atletico-PR's president "happens" to be a leader of the clubs which
don't belong  to the so-called "group of 13", the richest clubs.

10- These less powerful clubs have refused to accept discriminating
policies regarding TV broadcasting rights for next brazilian
championship. The "group of 13" got itself a very favorable contract
with Globo after auctioning with competitor SBT. The other clubs
didn't take part in the negotiations, walked out in protest and worked
some agreement with SBT, threatening not to allow TV broadcasting of
their matches by Globo.

11- Perhaps it's all one big hell of a coincidence.

Subject: Re: Clarifying the referee scandal in Brazil
Date: 28 May 1997 21:34:00 -0700
From: (Ariel Mazzarelli)

Yes, it's to be expected that something like this would happen.
Futbol everywhere has these kinds of things to varying degrees,
and Brasil is just too big to really control it. 

In Argentina there is currently a scandal over the bribes that are
offered for one team to beat another; this sounds marginally aboveboard
on a superficial basis, but there is in fact little to prevent the
team that is getting paid from sharing its "profits" with the
opponent. The 1992 tournament was messy in this way. As far as the
referees are concerned, there are often complaints, and everybody
is always insinuating that somebody paid somebody off, but deep down
inside we tend to believe that the motives for some of the "inexplicable"
decisions are a combination of incompetence and animosity between
a referee and some player.

That being said, it would surprise me if there was an institutionalized
bribery mechanism. Shock, maybe not, but surprise, yes. 

What worries me about this affair with Mendes and Teixeira is that Brasil 
is pretty central when it comes to FIFA, and I don't just mean Havelange 
(I think this began well before he became FIFA president, and in fact, 
it may have been what made him the natural candidate to replace Rous).
So naturally when a disgraceful refereeing display takes place like the 
one that took place during the last Copa America when Argentina played 
Brasil (or, for that matter, the Brasil-Netherlands match of WC '94),
one gets suspicious and begins to wonder if it's worth it to care about
professional futbol anymore.

In practice, I would guess that it is a mixed bag, and that only a (small?) 
minority of the games have this kind of influence. But these games can be 
crucial games (and have been!). So it tempers one's enthusiasm until the 
game is over and one can say "ok that one was clean"; that takes a LOT out
of being a futbol fanatico. In particular, making special plans and paying
lots of $ to see a pro game that might not be aboveboard can be foolish.