By Tom Gard
ANYONE still looking at sport through rose-tinted glasses must surely have had them knocked off and crushed under foot by recent events.
The Grobbelaar scandal, cricket's Cronjegate, drug prosecutions in cycling, and even allegations of cheating at the Paralympics. Can we ever be sure that what we are watching hasn't been fixed
The high-court judges' verdict in the Bruce Grobbelaar case has put match-fixing and backhanders in football right back at the top of the agenda. When the former Liverpool goalkeeper convinced two juries to decide in his favour, the football authorities breathed a huge sigh of relief, and happily brushed the matter under the carpet. But now renewed calls for a full and comprehensive investigation into corrupt practises in football are going to be impossible to ignore.
And if Grobbelaar is indeed guilty as charged, what is even more galling for the fans is the realisation that it is nigh on impossible to fix a match on your own. It is hard to image there aren't others involved.
Cricket is still reeling from the revelations that a host of top internationals, with Hansie Cronje and
Mohammed Azharuddinat their head, took money to fix the outcome of matches.
The subsequent investigation, which includes our very own Alec Stewart, has shattered the cosy notion in this country that dodgy dealings on and off the cricket field are a problem confined to the Indian sub-continent.
The damage the rotten apples have done to sport in general is immeasurable. It is not a one week wonder story, that blows up and then fades away just as quickly, but a drip, drip effect that will be with us for years.
Take Bradford City's hapless goalkeeper Gary Walsh, for instance. Ninety-nine point nine per cent of people who saw the horrendous miskick that gifted Manchester United, his old club, their first goal a couple of Saturday's ago accept it was an honest mistake, the sort of thing that happens to even the best footballers. But unfortunately there was immediately a tiny majority who pointed an accusing finger at him.
And, were England's legendary test victory against Australia at Headingley in 1981 were to be repeated this summer, would it be greeted with outpourings of joy or suspicion
Is corruption widespread or is sport in this country clean Click here to have your say.