Match-fixing arrests reach 17 in Italy
CREMONA, Italy -- Former Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni and 16 other people have been arrested across Italy in an ongoing investigation into soccer match-fixing and illegal betting.
The inquiry is focused on several matches in Serie B over the past two seasons, with Atalanta involved in three matches. Three Serie A matches from last season are also under investigation: Brescia vs. Bari, Brescia vs. Lecce and Napoli vs. Sampdoria.
"This is not the end, but just a starting point," Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino said Monday. "Let's hope it's a starting point in cleaning up the beautiful game that is football. One of the suspects has admitted that these operations have been going on for over 10 years.
"At the top of the organization are men from Singapore, who are those who move the money, but the shareholders are divided from the West, to the Far East, to South America and they manage with their men how to change the outcome of football matches."
Charges include criminal association and sporting fraud, while Doni has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to destroy evidence.
"There were several elements that would have risked ruining the evidence and that lead to the need for custodial measures," Di Martino said.
As recently as last month a Gubbio player was approached and offered $260,300 to affect the outcome of a Cup match between Cesena and Gubbio on Nov. 30. The player refused and reported the incident to the police.
In June, 16 people were arrested as part of the inquiry, which is being led by prosecutors in Cremona, and Doni was then placed under investigation.
In August, Doni was banned from soccer for 3½ years by the Italian federation's disciplinary committee and Atalanta -- which was promoted to Serie A for this season -- was given a six-point penalty.
Doni has maintained that he is innocent.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press