KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is now likely to stay in Spanish football after a transfer from Barcelona to Juventus collapsed over suspicion that an Italian language exam was fixed.
Suarez wanted to obtain Italian citizenship ahead of his move to Juventus. He qualified potentially because his wife is of Italian descent. Suarez duly passed the exam last Thursday at the University for Foreigners in Perugia.
This cleared the way for a fast-track citizenship approval which would mean Juventus could sign him without exceeding its permitted quota of non-EU players. However concerns were raised in the media that he had been given preferential treatment.
Perugia chief prosecutor Raffaele Cantone said his investigations showed the questions had been agreed with Suarez ahead of the exam and it had already been decided what mark to give him, despite his scarce knowledge of Italian.
The university denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement it had acted with “correctness and transparency” and was confident this would emerge at the end of the probe.
Police searched the university on Tuesday looking for further evidence, Cantone said in a statement, while Italian newspaper la Repubblica reported that five university employees had been put under investigation, including the rector.
La Repubblica published alleged conversations tapped by police during their probe, in which a tutor preparing Suarez for the exam told a colleague “he can’t speak a word,” and described him as an absolute beginner in Italian.
Suarez, 33, obtained the intermediate B1 qualification required for citizenship in just 15 minutes, his examiner said after the test, and was only required to do the oral part of the exam.
Other citizenship applicants taking the B1 exam on the same day in Rome, had to also complete a written paper lasting two-and-a-half hours.
Juventus moved swiftly to fill the attacking gap by signing Spain striker Alvaro Morata on loan from Atletico Madrid who now hope to sign Suarez who has been declared unwanted by new Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman.