Whatever else you say about Italy’s caretaker premier Mario Monti, he is not usually a man to speak first and think afterwards.
His measured, robotic voice shows that he is not in the business of making a drama out of the financial crisis.
He restores the notion that economics is a boring but necessary part of political life.
But his skills as a economist are greater than those as a politician.
In response to the latest match rigging / bribery scandal to hit Italian soccer he has stated publically that it would be better if soccer matches were halted for up to three years. This, he reasons, would allow the time for reflection needed to set the sporting house in order.
Monti was at pains to point out that he was voicing a personal opinion but, predictably, the media are not about to let facts get in the way of a good story and report his statement as if it had become official government policy.
Disillusionment with money-grabbing soccer players is one thing, but advocating a total ban on the sport is both illogical and counter productive. These greedy sportsmen, who have plenty of solid role models in the form of politicians,will rightly face criminal charges and are unlikely to play again.
Measures should then be taken to expose and demonise the unscrupulous organisations who are paying them to throw matches.
Obviously, this is a bit like saying that we need to root out drug barons as much as the dealers. I realise that to succeed totally it requires an overhaul of ingrained social and cultural attitudes which,let’s face it, is never likely to happen.
This doesn’t mean that we should give up the fight against corruption when we find it and resources should be applied to this task rather than proposing unworkable solutions that merely grab the headlines.
Monti would do well to focus on getting the nation’s books to balance and learning when it is diplomatic to keep his mouth shut.