ROME: Italian football president Giancarlo Abete has insisted that matchfixing whistleblower Simone Farina would be welcome back into an administrative role in the domestic game writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Farina, 30, is currently a community coach with English Premier League club Aston Villa after being effectively frozen out of Italian football because he not only refused to ‘sell’ a match but told the authorities about the offer.

In 2011, while playing for Gubbio in Serie B, he was offered €200,000 by Alessandro Zamperini, a former teammate at Roma, to fix a cup-tie against Cesena. Farina reported the approach to the police who subsequently arrested 17 people.

Farina received a FIFA fairplay award but no more offers of work within the Italian game. Hence his move to England.

Abete, re-elected as president of the FIGC on January 14 with a massive 94pc of the vote, conceded in a TV interview that he remained worried about the prevalence of matchfixing in Italy.

He said: “It would be irresponsible not to be worried. Our game has lived in the shadow of the work of the state prosecutors for the past 20 months and we expect the investigation to go for many more months yet.”

Abete was then asked to confront issues raised by Farina’s semi-enforced exile in search of a role within football.

He said: “It doesn’t say much for the image of Italian football that he felt he had to go as far away as Aston Villa to stay in the game. But, before he went to England and since then as well, we have always sought to assure him that, when he wants to come back, the doors of the federation will always be open to him.”

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