In the last week, Spanish Segunda Division club Eldense were thrashed 12-0 by Barcelona B, accused of fixing the match, and saw their coach and manager arrested and charged with corruption. (Two players and another coach were arrested Wednesday.) Despite evidence to the contrary, Eldense coach Filippo Vito di Pierro is pleading his innocence, telling sympathetic interviewers on Spanish radio station Cadena Cope that he’s a stand-up guy.
Vito di Pierro insisted Thursday that no, actually, the match wasn’t fixed, his team just really, really sucked, and even when they nicely asked the Barcelona players to stop scoring, Barca B refused and dishonorably kept playing to the best of their abilities.
Vito di Pierro, speaking in Italian, which was translated to Spanish on air, said his players were “clean.” From Cadena Cope:
After the embarrassment at Barcelona, I think our 20 players are clean. The Barcelona players did not respect the code of honour between teams. What’s more, our players on the bench asked Barcelona, “Stop, stop, please stop [scoring],” and they responded, “I’m sorry, we can’t.”
At the end of the interview, the presenter said, “I hope it’s the truth that you had nothing to do with this,” and Vito di Pierro began crying as he continued to assure the host that he was innocent.
In a different interview Wednesday on Cadena Cope, Vito di Pierro denied any connections to the Italian mob or the ‘Ndrangheta, an organized crime faction in southern Italy, and said he wants all of the matches to “happen in the light.”
I am innocent because I have done nothing wrong to put football in a negative situation.
The presenter also ended the chat on a humanizing note, saying it must be tough on Vito di Pierro’s family to hear the accusations against him. The coach welled up and agreed.
A statement from Spain’s Football Federation released Wednesday said there was sufficient evidence to take disciplinary action against Eldense.