I know what I am saying brings the whole game into disrepute and as a massive footy fan it breaks my heart to say it. But how much longer can we go on believing that the World Cup is free of the corruption when it has infected all levels of club football.
I have had my doubts about the honesty of the game since the early 1980's and probably before that, but the level of corruption is now out of control.
There was barely a game in the World Cup that wasn't severely affected by dodgy refereeing and players cheating has been turned into an art form and become an accepted part of the game (ruining it in my opinion).
The recent scandals in the German league and particularly the Italian league are highlighting the severe level of corruption within the game.
Any doubt I had about International match fixing disappeared after the England-Portugal game in Euro 2004.
Now let's fast forward to the current Italian scandal and police recordings.
Pierluigi Pairetto (UEFA referee's commitee): "I've put in a great referee for the Amsterdam game [against Ajax]. - [Urs] Meier"
Luciano Moggi (Juventus general manager]: "Terrific"
Juventus went on the win the Champions League game 1-0.
Now who was the referee for the England-Portugal game?
None other than Urs Meier!
So we know corrupt referees have been active in International tounaments. Indeed Italian ref, Massimo De Santis (also a police officer) would have been Italy's world cup representative had the police not uncovered his involvement in the recent Italian match fixing.
What of this current Italian team? Are we really to believe that the players wouldn't have realised the number of times they were getting favourable refs? Most of the Italian squad play for the teams involved. Gianluigi Buffon (Italy's goalkeeper) is being investigated for his involvement in a betting ring. Marcello Lippi (Team coach) is ex of Juventus.
There are countless examples of match fixing (right at the top level of the club game) that I could mention. The Italian league has been dogged by controversy for decades (probably longer), the German league had it's recent player/ref scandals. Brazilian football, Portuguese, Polish and French etc etc. Marsaile stripped of the Champion's league, Anderlecht in the UEFA cup, the list is endless and these are just the ones that have been found out. In Italy, corruption even went as far as controlling TV replays of fiddled decisions.
The repercussions of a corrupt World Cup would be just too much for FIFA or UEFA to admit, but it so obviously is corrupt. Argentina in 78? South Korea in 2002? It seems FIFA at least 'encourages' referees to 'help' the host nation progress to the knock-out stages. Was Sepp Blatter's comments about England a coded message to the referee that eliminating England was the ref's ticket to taking charge in the Final?
Anyway when FIFA only give a maximum 4 year ban as the harshest punishment to any of the referees that have been found out as corrupt, you have to ask how much they were in on the corruption? Surely any corrupt ref should be banned for life? How can we trust a game, when we can't trust the ruling body?