As you may know, the European qualifiers for the Bermuda Bowl 2022 are currently taking place 100% online due to the health situation. Italy, as the host country has already qualified. The event is scheduled to be held from March 27 to April 9 2022 in Salsomaggiore Terme.
All the same, an Italian team is lined up for the European qualifiers, which is largely considered a “B team” by those in the know. Nothing too controversial there you might think. Well, you’d be wrong, due to the inclusion of the controversial Fulvio Fantoni in the Italian team.
This man, infamous in the world of bridge, sadly made a name for himself through cheating. Should we be surprised that he’s in the Italian line-up? Apparently not. At least according to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) which overturned his convictions and according to the EBL who validated the teams for the European qualifications.
That could have been the end of the story you might think. History is littered with cheating scandals after all. Well no. This was not going to be the end of it. Indignation spread throughout the other teams in the competition, with players feeling their own honour was being compromised, along with the veracity of the competition. They were faced with a crisis of conscience. So, what to do?
Well, the Scottish team refused to play the Italian team on the first day of the qualifiers. A decision that resulted in a 12-0 defeat. The can of worms was well and truly opened. Wales, Slovenia, Lithuania, Ukraine and another 7 nations also refused to play Italy, with the same dire consequences for their ranking.
In the end, everyone will make up their own mind about the controversy. We’ll be sure to keep a close eye on how this all pans out. At Funbridge, we will certainly remember the courage of the players who have made qualification more difficult for themselves by sticking to their principles.
In particular, Scotland stands out as the first nation to raise its concerns, along with the great Norwegian player Brogeland and the German players Auken-Welland, all three of whom resigned from their respective teams in protest. Respect.