Is there a way to stop end-of-season farces?
AS Roma are absolutely livid after Inter Milan regained the lead in Serie A with a 2-0 win at Lazio, where the home fans cheered the goals as much as the away supporters.
Lazio fans hate Roma so much that many of them wanted their own side to lose on Sunday as it meant their bitter city rivals were knocked off top spot. This was despite the fact Lazio are not clear of relegation yet.
“If I was Inter I would be ashamed of winning like that,” Roma president Rosella Sensi told reporters, despite Lazio putting up a fight in the first half.
Liverpool fans had a similar dilemma when losing to Chelsea on Sunday. Defeat meant their Champions League dreams were over but at least hated rivals Manchester United stayed behind Chelsea in the title race with one game to go.
But is there any way of stopping situations like these and haven’t they happened for decades?
In Lazio’s case, it might have made a difference if their game had been scheduled at the same time as Atalanta v Bologna because then Lazio’s Serie A fate would have been even more insecure.
As it was, relegation candidates Atalanta and Bologna drew 1-1 and Lazio had a bit more breathing space ahead of their late kick off with Inter.
The last four rounds of games in Italy used to be played at the same time but now it only happens for the last two rounds. In England it’s only the last day of the season.
Federations could fine clubs accused of not giving their all but how do you prove it? Lazio were genuinely trying to score for most of the match and coach Edy Reja was adamant they were going for the win. The players can’t stop their own fans cheering.
Leagues could offer bigger financial incentives for teams finishing as high as possible, meaning all teams play at full pelt until the end of the season. However, the leagues do not have bottomless pockets.
More radical proposals include splitting up the league late on, a little bit like they do in Scotland, so only teams with something to play for meet each other.
It’s very complicated though, and ultimately you just have to have faith in the professionalism of the players.
Any other ideas?
PHOTO: Inter Milan’s Christian Chivu (R) and Lazio’s Sergio Floccari fight for the ball during their Italian Serie A soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Rome May 2, 2010. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito