Of the two teams
playing in the World Cup final early Monday morning, Juventus players dominate
the playing lists in a who’s who of international soccer: Patrick Vieira,
Lilliam Thuram, David Trezeguet from France and Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluigi
Buffon, Gianluca Zambrotta and Mauro Camoranesi from Italy all currently play for Juventus.

Of the ten
players nominated for the Golden Ball, the award for the best player of the
World Cup, a staggering six out of the ten either currently play or have played
for Juventus, the same Juventus which right now is battling in Italian
courts, desperately trying to avoid being dropped to the Italian third division
(Series C) due to match tampering and corruption accusations.

If Juventus is
dropped into a lower league, the superstars who have dominated the business end
of the World Cup are likely to be sold off in a fire sale. There is no way
these sporting superstars would accept playing in a lesser league, nor would
Juventus possibly be able to afford them. Italian soccer will be the big loser as
the stars of Juventus are dispersed across the soccer globe. In other words, a
blow for world soccer, an unmitigated disaster for the Italian Series A.

So as Juventus
looks to demotion and disgrace, its players look for greener pastures. Juventus
coach Fabio Capello has already jumped ship, this week signing a three year
deal to coach Real Madrid, while players of the class of Czech captain Pavel
Nedved and Brazilian midfielder Emerson are out of the World Cup and actively
shopping themselves around to other clubs.

It’s not a
coincidence then that the two teams with the greatest number of representatives
from Juventus are facing off – they may be playing passionately for their
countries, but they’re also playing passionately for a pay packet in 2006-2007. An
incredibly sad state of affairs when you consider the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final
will be the most eagerly watched meat market in the history of world sport.

Peter Fray

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