ROME: The latest episode in Italian football’s never-ending matchfixing saga has seen the arrests of seven people, including the president of Sicilian Serie B club Catania, over suspected manipulated results.
All seven have been detained on charges of sports fraud, according to a Catania police statement.
Antonino Pulvirenti and other managerial staff at the Sicilian side are accused of paying opponents to lose matches to enable Catania to remain in Serie B. The club finished just two points clear of relegation play-offs this past season.
Catania were relegated from Serie A last year after eight years back up in Italy’s top flight.
Serie B president Andrea Abodi said the accusations were another a blow to the reputation of Italian football, which has been rocked by a number of match-fixing investigations in recent years.
Detectives carried out searches at premises in Catania and elsewhere in Italy. Local police superintendent Marcello Cardona said the “extremely complex investigation” had been prompted by a complaint from Pulvirenti, a supermarkets and airline owner.
Pulvirenti, through his lawyer Giovanni Grasso, said he was “certain that he can prove he was not involved.”
Twelve others, including five players and the owner of a rival club in Messina, are under investigation for manipulating at least five games played in 2015. Police told local media the typical bribe to rival players to throw a match was €10,000.
The latest scandal comes a month after 50 people, including a suspected Calabrian mobster, were detained on accusations of fixing dozens of matches in the country’s third division and its top semi-pro league. In that case, investigators suspect 28 Lega Pro and Serie D matches from the 2014-15 season were rigged.
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