WHAT an awful witches brew of interests and self-interest came together over the last week to give the integrity of football a right kicking.
Nobody emerged from Jose Mourinho's latest assault on the game with their reputation intact. Nobody behaved with honour and the only winners were Sky.
At the sharp end of this corruption caused by common interests and low standards were a couple of terrible decisions made by Martin Atkinson during the Chelsea v Burnley game last weekend.
The problem began there. He had no technology to help him and after the game, Atkinson was harangued from all sides. Official response? Move along, nothing happened here. Ashley Barnes' brutal tackle on Nemanja Matic goes unpunished.
We all saw the tackle. There was no mystery, no extra enlightenment provided by Sky's cameras and the ridiculous thing about the available technology is that everyone in the ground and at home that day had access to it. The only man who didn't was the referee.
Cameras now show us instantly how often referees are wrong and even fans in the ground can pick up an action replay on their phones while the match officials are have to rely on their very fallible senses.
The fact that Atkinson and his assistants could only call on their own eyes and ears helped create the situation which ultimately gave Mourinho a platform for a truly disgraceful rant, facilitated by Sky television.
We have now reached the point which Sky always wanted to be. They want to be more than just a broadcaster carrying coverage of football. They want to be players. They want their influence felt and they want to shape opinion. They have now achieved that and it is bad for football.
Sky have poured a lot of resources into their analysis and it is hugely improved on what it used to be but they need stories to fuel the machine and Mourinho is one of their the star attractions.
They were quite happy to give him the run of their studio to develop his ongoing intimidation of match officials and threw their own pundits overboard while doing it. He was allowed a free ride and the men he accused of having an agenda against Chelsea were not given the chance to defend themselves.
No doubt they will get their own show at some point to say some more harsh things about Mourinho and so the whole, low budget soap opera rolls on.
There is enormous cowardice on show here. The English FA hides behind the sanctity of the referee and any time there is a high profile issue like this, they turn their backs on what should be done.
A few weeks back when Liverpool were at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho was seen approaching referee Mike Oliver and the fourth official, Phil Dowd, warned the Chelsea manager that he was on camera.
What he should have been doing was telling Mourinho in no uncertain terms that it is forbidden to approach a match referee at half-time. Oliver should have shown the red card and sent him to the stands for the second-half.
The manager who has been the single biggest thorn in referees' sides since Alex Ferguson retired was being protected by the very men he attacks on a daily basis. You couldn't write this script.
The rot is spreading too as I always knew it would. A good lad like Sean Dyche who has showed many qualities during his time as Burnley boss in the Premier League was dragged into the mire when he chose to defend Barnes dreadful tackle.
But Mourinho is at the centre of it all now. He has stepped into the role vacated by Ferguson but he is bringing a new sense of nastiness to it.
Ferguson bullied referees to gain an advantage and we all witnessed that as it happened. But I don't think he ever did with any malice intended.
Mourinho always guilds the lily, always adds an extra bite to his attack and often personalises his complaints. People like Anders Frisk, Stephen Hunt and many more. There's a long list of targets Jose has turned his attention to over the years.
He's not a nice man. He is unnecessarily destructive and when you strip away all of the other miserable strands of this little drama, at the heart of it all is Mourinho's ego and self-regard.