Farina gets Villa role

Simone Farina
Simone Farina was rewarded for his work to end match-fixing. Photo: PA

Simone Farina, who played a key role in helping to stop a match-fixing attempt in Italy last year, has joined Aston Villa as a community coach.

The former Roma defender hit the headlines when approached and offered 200,000 euros to help influence a Coppa Italia match between his club Gubbio and Cesena in November 2011.

But Farina refused, reported the incident to Italian police and his evidence helped lead to the arrest of 17 people the following month.

It led to FIFA president Sepp Blatter naming 30-year-old Farina as a FIFA ambassador for fair play.

INTERPOL, who investigated the match-fixing scandal in Italy, also awarded Farina a commemorative medal for his contribution to crime prevention and law enforcement.

Farina said: "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.

"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 at Villa.

"I wanted to move on with my life. Now I feel that I have real purpose again because of the support and opportunity Villa have given me."

Interpol secretary-general Ron Noble said: "Simone Farina is a football defender both on and off the pitch.

"He showed integrity and courage by turning down and reporting to the police an attempted bribe to corrupt the outcome of a match.

"He needs to become just as important a role model for our youth like stars such as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Corruption in sport is a very complex problem for which there is no quick fix. In addition to strong enforcement efforts, all those linked to the 'beautiful game' must place a great emphasis on prevention.

"In this respect Simone Farina's appointment by Aston Villa as a coach in its community outreach programme will allow him to continue to work to keep football clean."