Sixteen people, including former Lazio captain Giuseppe ‘Beppe’ Signori, have been arrested on suspicion of fixing matches in Serie B and Lega Pro.The list of suspects also includes former Venezia and Sampdoria left-back Stefano Bettarini, ex-Fiorentina midfielder Mauro Bressan and one-time Bari captain Antonio Bellavista.
Current players in Italy’s lower divisions are also implicated.
Sergio Lo Presti of the Cremona police said a six-month investigation had uncovered ‘important and compelling’ evidence that those arrested were part of a criminal organisation manipulating results of league matches in Italy’s second and third division.
Newly promoted Serie A clubs Atalanta and Siena have been mentioned as being involved in ‘suspicious’ results during their successful Serie B campaigns.
Investigators also believe there were unsuccessful attempts to influence matches in Serie A, including a failed attempt to rig the outcome of Inter Milan’s home match against relegation-threatened Lecce.
Arrests were carried out by policemen in Bari, Como, Bologna, Rimini, Pescara, Ancona, Ascoli, Ravenna, Benevento, Rome, Turin, Naples and Ferrara.
A series of raids were also carried out at the homes of suspects and an accounting firm believed to be linked to the scandal.
This latest blight on Italian football comes nearly five years to the day that police uncovered a sophisticated network of players, managers and referee organisations rigging matches in Serie A and B.
Juventus were stripped of their 2004/05 and 2005/06 Serie A titles and relegated to Serie B for their involvement in the scandal.
AC Milan, Fiorentina, Juventus, Lazio and Reggina were also punished.
In 2000, three players from Atalanta and five from Pistoiese were found guilty of match-fixing by the Italian Football Federation.
Signori, who scored 19 goals in 45 appearances for Italy, was the top scorer in Serie A three times with Lazio and ranks eighth on the all-time list in the league with 188.