Europe

Ordinary decent men

A tale of finance, power and bribery in the Times today.

Against a background of major clubs paying non-triers up to a million a month, endless hoopla and hype around the aptly-titled transfer market, phoney melodrama on the managerial merry-go-round, venerable clubs used as money-laundering operations by oligarchs bearing stolen billions, and much else along the same depressing lines, Wenger and Primorac stand out as beacons of integrity, indomitable true believers in the spirit of the game. They have that very, very rare thing in top-flight football – ordinary decency. They are among the handful who allow the rest of us to keep the faith.

Wenger and Primorac both spoke out against bribery in the French football league, with Primorac filing a formal complaint that some of his Valenceinnes players were tempted with bribes to throw an important league tie with Marseilles. Primorac was frozen out of French football as a result, even though Bernard Tapie (owner of Marseilles) was eventually done for corruption. Fast forward to today, and Christine Lagarde is now under investigation for her part in another Tapie deal:

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, is to stand trial in France over a multimillion-euro government payment to a controversial tycoon who supported former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Lagarde has been accused of “negligence by a person in a position of public authority” over the award of more than €400m to Bernard Tapie.

Money, power, flamboyant personalities, corruption. Football, eh?