EBL Qualifier: Italian Federation’s Statement

Today the Italian Bridge Federation (FIGB) posted the followings:

The start of the European qualifiers for the 2022 World Championships and the 2021 Champions’ Cup has been disconcerting.

The first six rounds took place in the ‘European Qualifier 2021’, but none of the teams who were scheduled to play against Italy turned up. The teams were Scotland, Wales, Slovenia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Latvia. The Italian team fields (Alberto Forcucci npc, Verino Caldarelli, Tiziano Di Febo, Kristian Dimitrov, Fulvio Fantoni, Berardino Mancini e Lanfranco Vecchi).

It is apparent that this is not a coincidence, but a planned and perhaps coordinated protest of those NBOs who did not want to play against Italy.

This is not acceptable and it undermines the relationships between our NBO and theirs. Even worse, it is offensive towards the organiser of the event, the EBL, who accepted the Italian team’s line up.

Prior to writing this statement, we waited for the publication of the first bulletin and we are pleased to see that the EBL has started an investigation to find out more about why those six NBOs refused to play.

This behaviour can potentially be subject to heavy penalties, reflecting the serious violation against principles of sportsmanship and basic civility.

We are almost sure (and we are not scared to face the elephant in the room) that the reason why they refused to play is because one of the players in the Italian team had been subject to investigation and disciplinary action for cheating. Some influential players are still campaigning against him, whilst national and international organisations are silent on the matter, which undermines their own credibility and authority.

As everyone knows, investigations and tribunal proceedings ended with the player’s acquittal. Although people have their own views, the Sports Tribunal has spoken and the player has the right to play in all national and internal competitions: but this can happen only if we remember that we live in a civilised society, if we recognise human rights and acknowledge the role of justice, and if we want to keep hoping that bridge will be recognised as a real sport.

We look forward to hearing the outcome of the EBL’s inspection and any potential disciplinary measures, hoping that these awful events will not repeat themselves in the future.

Francesco Ferlazzo Natoli

President of FIGB

August 24, 2021

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Original Text »

English translation by Neapolitan Club

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