Former Italy striker Giuseppe Signori was among 16 people arrested for in the latest match-fixing scandal to rock Italian football. in a co-ordinated sting by Italian police on Wednesday.
The current scandal is focused on ex Serie A players and current players from both Serie B and Serie C as well as club directors from the lower leagues, all suspected of being part of an organisation that rigged games to fix bets.
Eighteen matches are under investigation including this season’s Serie A encounter between Inter Milan and Lecce, while matches involving newly promoted Siena and Atalanta are also being investigated.
Police said the investigation had produced evidence of an organised system among former and current footballers, sports-betting operators and others to manipulate results, with bets worth tens of thousands of euros, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of euros, placed on the outcome.
The suspects managed to fix certain results through verbal agreements and payments, according to Cremona judge Guido Salvini.
“The activities of the association are ongoing and having an effect on the end of the season in various leagues (not yet finished) with serious consequences for the clubs, for punters and for the fairness of sporting competition,” said Salvini. “There is a risk that some results in various competitions have already been fixed. You only need to consider that Atalanta and Siena were recently promoted to Serie A and they’re two of the clubs involved.”
The Italian football federation’s general director Antonello Valentini said:
“The federation will cooperate with the investigation and will defend the interests of the football image as well as correctness and transparency of the football bodies. We trust the work that is being done by the authorities and we give our maximum cooperation but at the same time we request caution and prudence considering the delicate procedures as we await more information.”
Italy is still trying to recover from the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal of five years ago in which teams asked for specific referees, known to be friendly towards them, for their matches. As a result of that investigation Juventus were relegated and stripped of two titles while AC Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina and Reggina were all hit with point deductions.