Adam DigbyComment


Adam DigbyComment

"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs..."

When Italian national team coach Cesare Prandelli reveals his next squad list there will be at least one name you haven't heard of. He's not a player tearing up the Champions League or catching the eye with an astonishing strike-rate in the lower leagues. His team Gubbio currently sit fourth from bottom in Serie B and he is part of a defence which has conceded thirty-two goals in their opening twenty-two games, of which they have won just four.

Yet Simone Farina will be part of the Italy set-up and join in the preparations for Euro 2012 when the Azzurri meet for the friendly against USA next month; Italy's only match before they convene in May for the tournament.

So why will he be there? Because he said no.

Farina was approached and offered 200,000 Euros by Alessandro Zamperini - a former teammate from the 29 year old's time at Roma - to influence the outcome of Gubbio's Coppa Italia tie on November 30 last year. He refused the bribe, a sum which represents over two years wages on his current deal, and then immediately reported the incident to the police.

It is not the first time the Roman-born player has been inadvertently caught up in a national scandal. On June 28 2002, his then club Roma exchanged him for Cittadella midfielder Alessandro Sturba, with both players given a nominal value of €2.4 million. Roma then bought back half of Farina's registration for €1.2m, one of many similar deals done by the Giallorossi at that time which combined to create a profit of €55m from transfers involving youth players.

This process - known as 'plusvalenza' - was responsible for the near collapse of clubs such as Lazio and Parma later that decade and Roma were investigated as part of a clamp-down. On October 30 2007 they were fined €60,000 by a criminal court in Rome for irregularities in their transfer dealings of youth players, the Farina/Sturba exchange among those cited by the judge.

Now however, his international call-up will - much like his honourary awards from both FIFA and the Italian players association - be richly deserved, especially considering his financial status compared to that of other players, such as Cristiano Doni, who were unable to do the right thing and refuse the money on offer. His invite to train with the squad will be his first involvement with the Azzurri since receiving two Under-15 caps back in 1998 but Prandelli is determined to see his virtuous act recognised, as he told the press in December;

"I like what Simone has done because he has shown great courage and extraordinary inner strength. Now we will not abandon him because a gesture like his, in an environment far from the spotlight, is not simple.  I will tell him to come to Coverciano to train with us; it will be our way to thank him. Calcio needs these examples."

Simone Farina, yours is the Earth and everything that is in it.

Adam is a regular contributor to IBWM, and the co-founder of JuventiKNOWS. He can be found on Twitter @Adz77.