Controversy is the central theme of this week's edition of the Yahoo! Soccer Podcast, in conjunction with World Football Daily, with the murky issues of match-fixing and racism raising their ugly heads as the European season winds down.
I host the podcast, which kicks off with a fascinating interview with renowned author Simon Kuper, whose books "Soccernomics" and the "Soccer Men" have created waves around the football world.
Kuper lifts the lid on the widespread corruption present in soccer and explains why the spread of the multi-billion dollar sports betting industry, especially in Asia, has contributed to nefarious activities poisoning the sport.
Using his background as an economics expert, Kuper looks into his crystal ball and predicts a time – in the near future – when the United States emerges as one of the premier destinations for many of the world's best players. He believes Major League Soccer clubs will soon be able to outbid European teams for players by offering higher salaries, and although countries such as Russia and China may be able to offer even higher wages, the U.S. would be seen as a safer and more agreeable option.
The next scandal to rock the game revolves around the best player in the world, Barcelona's Argentinean superstar Lionel Messi. Former Real Madrid midfielder Royston Drenthe claimed this week on Dutch television that Messi repeatedly used a racial slur when talking to him during a game last year.
Barca has issued a strong defense of its player, but the accusations could potentially have a serious effect on Messi's stellar reputation. Graham Hunter, a Spanish-based journalist and author of "Barca: The Making of the World's Greatest Team," breaks down the issue and its intricacies.
Finally, WFD co-host Sophie Nicolaou and I take a look at the weekend's biggest games, with Manchester City one win away from clinching the English Premier League, but with local rival Manchester United ready to pounce on any slip-up.
To have questions answered on next week's show, please message Martin Rogers on Twitter at @mrogersyahoo with the hashtag #YSpodcast.
To download the Yahoo! Soccer Podcast on iTunes, search for "Yahoo! Sports Radio - Martin Rogers."
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