“The racket” is defined as an organized criminal act in which money is obtained illegally on a regular basis. In the past year, numerous mafia scandals have been exposed in relation to Italian football, but Gela FC was not one of the names in the headlines and that is largely because Gela has taken a hard stance against the racket and its effects on the sport.
Italian football is surrounded by money. In 2018, football generated €2.397 billion in Italy, and that’s mostly focused on ticket sales alone and doesn’t even account for the millions more made in sponsorships, advertising, and TV contracts. When it comes to big-money sports, unfortunately, it can be said that illegal activity is always close to follow.
The racket as it affects Italian football has taken many forms over the years. For example, in the 2006 Italian Football Scandals, five teams were implicated of being involved in a network of illegal activity that resulted in tampering with referees. This was especially impactful for FC Juventus, who saw two titles stripped and became relegated to Serie B as a result.
Another prime example of the racket impacting the sport is in the form of illegal gambling. Players, coaches, and officials have faced various charges of match fixing over the years, causing fans to lose faith in the reputation of the game. Additionally, illegal betting is dangerous to those who partake, and has been accused of bringing an element of sleaze to the games. Gambling is always a financial risk, but if you are interested in placing a bet, be sure you are taking proper precautions for safe gambling. Legal gambling providers generally care about the safety of their customers, but it’s safe to say illegal bookmakers have different priorities.
Despite the scandals surrounding the sport, FC Gela has steered clear of any of the implications that have come to haunt other clubs. When the 2006 Italian Football Scandals were exposed, Gela came out strongly opposed to this type of activity, which helped sway disillusioned fans who were looking for a reputable team to root for.
Gela FC’s stance against the racket is especially impressive given that the region is known for having a history of dealing with mafia-related issues. Daniele Emmanuello, former head of the Sicilian Mafia in Gela, was notoriously placed on the list of “Most Wanted” fugitives in Italy in 1996 in association with drug trafficking and murder. Emmanuello remained a fugitive until 2007, when he was killed by Italian police in an attempt to flee the country. Despite stories like these leaving a stain on the region’s history, S.S.D. Città di Gela has been firm on not allowing the image of the team to be tainted by mafia related activities.
For those who still believe in the purity of the game, Gela FC is a team to put your trust in, and they have worked hard to ensure that the club’s reputation stays solid throughout the years. For fans of football, it’s nice to know that there is still honour in the sport, and that the racket can be avoided.