Monday, 19 December 2011

Doni Amongst Arrests in Serie A

Italian police have arrested 17 people in connection with a match-fixing and betting investigation.

Those arrested include former Atalanta and Italy midfielder Cristiano Doni.

The arrests were carried out in several cities in Italy after an initial investigation by magistrates in the northern city of Cremona.

Those arrested and accused of match-fixing had contacts with criminal groups in Singapore and Eastern Europe, according to police.

"This is not the end - just a starting point," said Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino, who claimed one suspect had admitted match-fixing had been ongoing for more than 10 years.

"Let's hope it's a starting point in cleaning up the beautiful game that is football," he added.

Di Martino also claimed that the investigation had uncovered match-fixing on a near-global scale.

"The shareholders are divided from the West, to the Far East, to South America and they arrange with their men how to change the outcome of football matches," he told a news conference.

The investigation was a follow-up to a previous one earlier this year by the football authorities, which led to suspensions and bans for several players, including Doni, who was banned from football for three and a half years by the Italian Football Federation's disciplinary committee.

Atalanta, who had been promoted to Serie A at the end of last season, were given a six-point penalty. Doni has maintained that he is innocent.

According to police, several other players and former players from Serie B were also arrested, as well as the manager of a seaside club and a former trainer of fourth division Ravenna.

Atalanta matches in Serie B were among those under suspicion, although three Serie A matches involving other clubs from the same period were also investigated by the operation, named 'Last Bet'.

The arrests come five years after a separate match-fixing scandal resulted in Juventus being relegated to Serie B for a season.

Penalties were also handed to Lazio, AC Milan, Fiorentina and Reggina over attempts to influence refereeing appointments.