Criscito slams officials for exclusion
Domenico Criscito criticized Italy's football federation for leaving him out of the European Championship squad and said Friday he's been turned into a scapegoat for the match-fixing scandal.
Criscito was dropped from the squad after he was questioned by investigators Monday over alleged wrongdoings while at Genoa.
Criscito now plays for Zenit St. Petersburg.
''I was left shocked on Monday morning,'' Criscito told Italian media on Friday. ''I would never have expected anything of the sort, never having done anything bad in my life. Leaving me out of the 23 for the Euros on the last day made it seem as if I was considered the face of the scandal. If they'd thought about it a bit more, it would have been obvious I had nothing to do with it.
''If I was the FIGC, I would have read the order. I'm angry and upset, I can't stand being made out to be a scapegoat. A day before going to the Euros I suffered a great injustice. I've worked a lifetime to get to this stage and gave everything I had this year so as not to lose out.''
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said he left Criscito out of the squad as he would have felt ''a pressure that no human being can deal with'' and could have been called up by prosecutors at any time.
''When (Prandelli) talked to me I was clearly very upset,'' Criscito said. ''After a few hours, however, I was fully calm again and nothing would have shaken me if I was called up.
''I wouldn't have been questioned shortly afterwards. If I would have gone to Poland, I would have agreed that I would appear in court when I got back. Even the prosecutor said that there wasn't anything to stop me going to the European Championship. The notice that I'm under investigation doesn't mean that I'm guilty. But the fact I'm not in the squad can be interpreted as a judgment of guilt.''
Italian football has been roiled by the latest match-fixing scandal for over a year. Fourteen people were arrested on Monday, including Lazio captain Stefano Mauri, taking the total to about 50.
Apart from those arrested on Monday, three people have been placed under house arrest and two others have to present themselves to authorities. Five of the arrests were made in Hungary.
Numerous others have had their houses searched, including Chievo Verona striker Sergio Pellissier, Conte and Criscito.
The investigation was started by judicial authorities in Cremona last year. It has resulted in former Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni being banned from football for 5 1/2 years, and the arrest of former Lazio captain Giuseppe Signori.
Prosecutors in Cremona have detailed an extensive match-fixing ring stretching as far as Singapore and South America that was allegedly in operation for more than 10 years.
Italy has only recently recovered from the 2006 match-fixing scandal - known as Calciopoli - that resulted in Juventus being relegated to Serie B for a season, plus points penalties for several other Serie A teams and long bans for club and refereeing officials.
Italy reacted in the best possible way by winning the World Cup that year.