After the obvious bribery based calling of the US Open cup game between the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City, I sat down with the game’s head referee Fotis Bazakos who revealed the truth behind a not so hidden issue of bribery among referees and what his earnings would be used on.
Me: “What happened out there tonight?”
Fotis: “Well I did my job. So I got the payday phone call, the one that refs get when someone has paid the ‘bonus fee’, and we all know what that means. I just knew I had to do everything in my power to get that bonus check. See it’s not an automatic. You have to make sure that the paying guy’s team wins and if they loose, the check goes away, usually back to the guy.”
Me: “So when you say the bonus you meana bribe, correct?”
Fotis: “Yeah, but we never call it that. Fifa states that it’s a bonus or a fee because bribes are illegal and the word is closely monitored for with negative repercussions and effects when it is used.”
Me: “Ok so knowing what it meant, you were told what exactly?”
Fotis: “Well, I was told that the head guy who pays has a bonus for the orange and blue game. I was to make sure that blue won and if orange didn’t score, I’d get double.”
Me: “There were some obvious plays didn’t you worry that you it would be noticeable that you were calling it in favor of one team?”
Fotis: “I was a little worried because I knew I was being super obvious, but I really wanted my money. Then I realized it wasn’t televised or anything. I could practically tell the orange team that they weren’t gonna win regardless and in a way I did. The blue team didn’t make it easy either, the trip in the box and then that handball where he practically grabbed the ball! I wanted to smack them. but like I said, no big deal because noway could I be held accountable because it wasn’t on TV or anything. ”
Me: “So why are you telling me now, aren’t you worried that you’ll get in trouble or won’t get anymore bribes?”
Fotis: ” Bonuses.”
Me: “Right,sorry. Bonuses.”
Fotis: “No, I got the mother load! By making sure the orange team lost and didn’t score I got my double bonus and now I’m set.”
Me: “Ok, so what did you do with the money? I mean did you have medical bills that you needed the money for or a family member needed money for a life saving operation that wasn’t insured, or was it like a gambling debt that some thugs were gonna remove your kneecaps over? What did you spend the money on?”
Fotis: “I bought a boat. I’ve always wanted a boat but on my salary I knew I’d never be able to afford it so all but forgot it and went on about my business. Then I got the call and I knew I was finally gonna get my dream boat! It’s incredible! She’s a 40’ AFT cabin Silverton with 2 staterooms and a spacious main salon. Worth it!”
Me: “Well thank you for your candor and good luck with your boat.”
Fotis: “You should come and see it sometime, I’d love to take you out cruising the open waters. You’d see why I love it so much.”
Me: “Um, that’s gonna be a really emphatic No!”
And there you have it folks, Fotis sold his soul and simultaneously sold out a good, pure soccer team who refused to stoop to the level of fixing a match… for a boat.
It makes me wonder who else out there has made similar sales. He obviously isn’t alone and seeing some of the obvious badly called games I know the are others are willing to sell out the game I so dearly love. What would you sell out your profession, soul, friends for? And is this all we can hope for our future? Will the replay technology really be the accountability that so many have been begging for or is it just one one person on the ‘Bonus payroll” ? Till next time…
Disclaimer: This story is in no way accurate, factual or ever in any way connected to MLS, the U.S. Soccer Referees Association, US Soccer, The Professional Referee Organization or any individuals mentioned in this article/ post. It is meant for entertainment purposes only and it is purely fictional and the brain hallucination of my satirical mind and has no base in reality.