Italy’s training ground searched by police

Lazio captain Stefano Mauri is arrested as police search Italy’s training site as part of corruption investigation.

Policemen stand by a screen during a pre
Police are investigating a number of games, players and clubs in the latest match-fixing scandal [GETTY]

Italian authorities arrested Lazio captain Stefano Mauri and more than a dozen others on Monday as part of a wide-ranging investigation into match-fixing in football.

Police also swept through the Italy national team training site near Florence as part of the operation.

The Italian football federation said Mauri was one of 14 people arrested and later announced that Zenit St. Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito would not be in Italy’s European Championship squad after it emerged the player was being investigated.

Two police cars arrived at the national team’s training site at around 6:25am local time (0425 GMT) and left more than two hours later. Criscito’s house in Genoa was also searched.

Criscito had been in Italy coach Cesare Prandelli’s provisional 32-man squad for Euro 2012, but was left out of the final 23-man group.

The coach of Italian champion Juventus, Antonio Conte, was also placed under investigation for alleged wrongdoing while he was coach of Siena and his house in Turin was searched.

“Conte’s reaction is that of someone who’s completely innocent and strongly determined to prove his total innocence,” Conte’s lawyer, Antonio De Rencis, said.

Manipulated matches

Siena president Massimo Mezzaroma has also been placed under investigation.

“The searches are connected to what’s happening with Siena,” said Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino.

“There are seven, eight games being looked at and there have been statements that make us think they were manipulated. The searches involved players, coaches and directors of the club, including Conte and Mezzaroma.

“We shouldn’t place too much emphasis on the blitz at Coverciano, it is a problem that concerns only Criscito and not other players in the national team at the moment,” Di Martino said, before the squad was announced.

“It’s devastating news… If the authorities are acting it’s because there’s something there”

Former Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni

“Also we shouldn’t place too much emphasis on this anyway, the notification of an impending investigation is a tool we have, but not a guilty judgment. There’s been no action taken against Criscito travelling, he can play at the Euros easily.”

Criscito, who did not take part in Italy’s training session, has reportedly asked to be heard by the authorities as soon as possible.

Action has been taken against 19 people, 11 of whom are footballers or former footballers – 14 have been arrested, three have been placed under house arrest and two others are to present themselves to authorities. Five of the arrests were made in Hungary.

“It’s devastating news,” former Italy and current Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni said.

“If the authorities are acting it’s because there’s something there.”

Mauri has been accused of sporting fraud. Most of the footballers accused now play in Serie B or lower leagues, although one, Omar Milanetto, spent five years at Genoa before joining Padova in 2011.

Numerous others have had their houses searched, including Chievo Verona’s Sergio Pellissier.

More than 50 people have now been arrested in Italy in the past year as part of the probe started by judicial authorities in Cremona.

Former Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni was banned from football for three and a half years last summer, and former Lazio captain Giuseppe Signori was also arrested.

Serie A clubs Atalanta, Novara and Siena were among the 22 Italian teams notified at the beginning of this month that they are being investigated by sports authorities.

Prosecutors in Cremona have detailed an extensive match-fixing ring stretching as far as Singapore and South America that was allegedly in operation for more than 10 years.

“It will be impossible to go right to the end with this because my office is not equipped to do so,” Di Martino said.

“If people wanted, we could go on forever but there’s very few personnel.

“It will be impossible to go ahead with this for a long time.”

Source: AP