A gambling addict confronted by debt collectors with semi-automatics, Cremonese's Marco Paolini literally left his team-mates dazed and confused when he spiked their half-time brew with dope. The drugs don't work, Marco.
Had the Cremonese goalkeeper Marco Paolini been an avid Grange Hill viewer in the 1980s, his life might well have taken a turn for the better. For anybody who saw Zammo lose Jackie over a smack addiction realised the drugs don’t work.
But Paolini had a cunning plan, genial it has to be said even by Italian calcio corruption standards. On 14 November 2010, he slipped a soporific (Lormetazepam) into the half-time brew, during the Cremonese-Paganese match, to negatively dope his teammates. Putting lead in their legs, Sandro Turotti, the Cremonese director general, couldn’t understand why his players were collapsing to the ground one after another, and begging to be subbed.
To Paganese’s great humiliation, despite Paolini’s best efforts Cremonese still won 2-0, with five players entering the changing room on the verge of collapse, their heads spinning. Worse still, five hours later, another crashed his car after falling asleep at the wheel. You couldn’t make it up. In the subsequent inquiry explicit police telephone taps apparently left no doubt as to Paolini’s responsibility, while exposing his advice on which matches to bet. His ‘tips’ didn’t always come off however, and Paolini found himself confronting strangers only too happy to show him a semi-automatic weapon hidden underneath their jacket.
Addicted to gambling and renowned for his ability to gift the opposition the most improbable goals, he perfectly fitted the suspect’s identikit picture.
Confessing to being both broke and addicted to gambling and renowned for his ability to gift the opposition the most improbable goals (most notably during the Cremonse-La Spezia tie, in October 2010, which came under investigation), he perfectly fitted the suspect’s identikit picture.
So broke the umpteenth Italian football betting scandal involving fixed matches, corrupt players and guaranteed results, only five years after the last earthquake had shaken the game to its core. Initially focussing on the semi-pro Lega Pro and Serie B leagues, the Cremona Prosecutor’s inquiry quickly found itself in Serie A, and former national-team striker Beppe Signori and long-suspected Atalanta legend Crsitiano Doni in the dock.
Marco Paolini, you dipstick, take a bow. You merit it, the Ballon D’oh! Next time, however, please, just say no!
‘Sport Italia’ by Simon Martin, was published in July 2011 by IB Tauris. It narrates the history of modern Italy through the national passion of sport.
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