By Brian Doogan
Simone Farina has called on players and club officials approached by organised crime syndicates to cooperate fully with INTERPOL and FIFA in their fight against match fixing as well as other ongoing investigations of 380 matches across Europe which were allegedly fixed.
The Aston Villa community coach was recognised internationally for the moral courage he displayed when he went to the authorities after being offered a substantial bribe to fix the outcome of an Italian Cup game in November 2011.
Cesare Prandelli, the Italy coach, called him up to the national squad as a reward for his role in exposing the attempted deception, Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon emphasised that Farina's "positive example should not be forgotten" and FIFA president Sepp Blatter invited him on-stage as guest of honour at the Ballon d'Or ceremony in January 2012, describing him as a role model for young people and naming him as a FIFA Ambassador for Football for Hope.
Farina is saddened by the scale of the problem brought to light following Europol's 18-month investigation and he believes that only total cooperation between those offered financial inducement by organised crime syndicates and the relevant authorities will result in match-fixing being eradicated from football.
"This is not a problem only in Italy or any one particular country, this is an international problem and the scale of it really saddens me," said Simone, who became a community coach at Villa in September 2012 and has already completed the Level One Award in Coaching Football to become an FA qualified coach.
"It is vital that there is complete collaboration with FIFA and INTERPOL so that the problem can be tackled properly and we longer have such scandal in the game.
"The responsibility lies with the players and officials of football clubs. The management of the clubs have to act and support the players and support the authorities in their investigations.
"They cannot leave players isolated and afraid to speak out when they are confronted by the wrong individuals.
"Players need to feel empowered and supported in order to be able to report what they need to when they are approached by organised syndicates.
"It is vital also the work that INTERPOL and FIFA are doing to try to deal with this problem and to get to the bottom of it.
"Working now with children, I understand completely how important it is to pass on the right values and to ensure that they have a strong mentality and the game of football in their heart.
"This is why all of us first fell in love with the game.
"Match-fixing has no place in football. It is a blight on the game and for the future of the game we need to tackle it and overcome it now."
Longstanding links between INTERPOL - who investigated the match-fixing scandal in Italy and awarded Farina a Commemorative Medal for his contribution to crime prevention and law enforcement - and Villa led to Farina taking up his role at the Club.
He combines this with regular contributions at international conferences and training sessions on how to tackle match-fixing for various football federations around the world.
"For me, working with children makes me very happy and I am delighted to be working with Aston Villa to help to develop young players of the future in our community programme," Farina said recently.
"I know I did the right thing when I refused to get involved in the fixing of a football game. I went to the authorities because this corruption had to be brought to the surface.
"This level of deception has no place in football or in any walk of life.
"I wanted to move on with my life and I feel I have real purpose because of the support and opportunity Villa have given me.
"Randy Lerner and Paul Faulkner have been fantastic and already I feel I am part of the Villa family, especially with the way the Club and the community have embraced me.
"I have learnt a lot from the other coaches here and I am trying to give my experience to the children. I am also learning from them because the atmosphere they generate is very positive.
"The opportunity here at Villa is perfect for me. It is also very satisfying to see the technical development of the children and their enjoyment of the game. This is what the game is all about really.
"I feel very happy in the Birmingham area as the people here have been great and my family are very happy, too. This is important to me, of course.
"But it is also important to me that I continue to work in football and that I am able to pass on my knowledge because football is an inspirational game.
"A year ago I did not see my life moving in this direction but I am really delighted to be able now to contribute in this way."