Friday, 8 August 2008

Your Papers, Please

Argentina as the cliche goes is a nation of immigrants, they came from Spain (particulary Galicia and the Basque Country), from Italy, and from Wales, from England and Eastern Europe. Using this melting pot of backgrounds and nationalities looked like the ideal smokescreen to help export footballers to Europe and grease a few palms on the way. Due to the limits on non-European Union players at Italian clubs the scam helped Argentines to trace their family trees and 'discover' long lost great-grandparents. It what appears to be a major flaw many of the relatives were allegedly from the same Italian village (although it could be Italy's equivalent to Ashington which was home to the Charltons and Milburns!!!!).

Enter Judge Norbato Oyarbide who started investigating some bizarre signatures that appeared on Italian passports issued from their consul in Buenos Aires. The operation which was started on the 11th July involved police raids across the city when 24 suspects were detained. Judge Oyarbide suspects that as many as 150 players could be involved in the scandal which could also include other European nations. The last major incident of this nature was in 2000 when players such as Juan Sebastian Veron, Roberto Ayala and Esteban Fuertes were involved.