There was nothing illegal about it. At least not on the face of it. The Football Club president’s dad was signed up with the team just before their final game of the season. Just before the most important one of them all. The Gozo league winning match. So as the match progressed the Football Club president’s dad was brought on as a sub and scored a goal thanks to a penalty awarded to the Football Club.
Jubilation and ecstatic scenes followed the final whistle. The Football Club was crowned champion. The young Football Club president could celebrate a successful season and celebrate his dad’s wonderful achievement of scoring on the field. The dad had given up the presidency to take up another with another team in the Maltese league. He had won that league too.
Now far be it from me to deprive father and son of the immense joy that it must be to shepherd a village team to the dizzy heights of Olympic glory. I’d hate to be the killjoy that points out that divesting oneself of a presidency only to hand it to immediate family to be able to own another team is not exactly kosher in most of the footballing world. Nor would I want to be the one to point out the unorthodox nature of the last-minute signing of a non-footballer for a moment of personal glory.
Money though. It buys teams, buys moments of glory, and makes those rules a tad bit more supple to the point that it is hard to draw the line and say when enough is enough. Association football may take pride in century-old rules but when the rich come down to play, they do not only own the pitch, the ball and the kit but they also get to script the play.
After all sport is only mirroring the real world out there. We may have a web of rules spun over the years in the hope of having a decent law-abiding society protected from the will of the powerful and mighty. Instead over the years, we have seen a weakening of the institutional set up that is inevitably due to the power of money. Regulate the environment all you like, create rules and authorities as much as you can, yet the undeniable truth is that these institutions are weakened through the peddling of influence and abused by the networks of power created purposely to rewrite the rules of the game.
The latest internal squabbles within the PN are a reminder of these networks at work. Not long after the ‘defection’ of a prominent member of his team to the DB Group, Bernard Grech had to deal with new allegations coming from disappointed election candidate Jason Azzopardi. The allegations were all about donations offered by the powerful in exchange for using a party for their own devices and interests.
The Nationalist party does not have an exclusive right to this kind of issue. Labour has proven the existence of the networks of power throughout its period in government. The existence of rules remains a general smokescreen hiding the greedy entente between politicians and businessmen. The rules end up being nothing more than a recommendation that is ignored for the greater benefit of the advancement of the parties and their people.
Politics and the business of representation turn out to be nothing more than a vast playground of interests where the rules are adapted so that each avaricious businessman and ambitious politician may play out his dreams of popularity, success and wealthy accomplishment.
Every businessman wants to shoot that penalty, every politician wants to raise that trophy. To do so they no longer play BY the rules but rather play around WITH the rules until they suit their needs. The game is rigged, and we have long been cheering impostors and charlatans. The Republic has been sold to the highest bidders. Three cheers for the Republic!