Ex-AC Milan star targeted in Italian match-fixing
Former AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, one of the key
players in Italy’s World Cup-winning team in 2006, was placed under
investigation for match-fixing on Tuesday as a widening inquiry
into soccer corruption targeted Milan’s last title campaign.
Four others were arrested in a police sweep.
Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino, who has been leading the
Last Bet operation for three years, told The Associated Press that
Gattuso and retired Milan and Lazio player Cristian Brocchi were
allegedly part of a ring that fixed Serie A and other Italian
matches at the end of the 2010-11 season.
”About 30 matches, a good part of them involving Serie A, are
under investigation,” Di Martino told the AP.
Gattuso said he was ”angry and offended.”
”This stuff is absurd and incredible,” Gattuso told
SportMediaset TV. ”I don’t even know what it means to fix a match,
I wouldn’t know where to start. Let’s see what happens now but I’m
certain that everything will be cleared up.”
Brocchi’s agent, Davide Lippi, said his client was innocent.
The four people arrested were Salvatore Spadaro, Francesco
Bazzani, Cosimo Rinci and Fabio Quadri. Each of them allegedly
helped connect fixers to players, Di Martino said of the case
involving more than 50 people arrested since mid-2011.
Gattuso and Brocchi face charges of criminal association with
the aim of fraud and sports fraud, and had their homes searched.
About 20 other people were also placed under investigation.
Gattuso and Brocchi were connected to the case by the use of
phone taps, Di Martino said.
Gattuso, who won two Champions League titles with Milan, was
fired as Palermo coach in September. Brocchi is currently coaching
in AC Milan’s youth program.
Police said in a statement that the arrests were carried out in
Milan, Bologna, Rimini and Messina.
Di Martino said some of the people arrested Tuesday met as
recently as this year, suggesting matches continue to be fixed.
”We’re seeing clear facts that despite the arrests and
investigations a good part of these people continue to do what they
did before,” Di Martino said later in a news conference, lamenting
that past arrests have not made much of an impact.
”There certainly were not big reactions in Italy, considering
that things continue to go on like before,” the prosecutor
Other former and current players placed under investigation
included Claudio Bellucci, Davide Bombardini, Leonardo Colucci,
Lorenzo D’Anna, Nicola Mingazzini, Claudio Terzi, Samuele Olivi and
The Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Milan matches against
Lazio, Chievo Verona and Bari in February and March 2011 were under
investigation, plus games involving Juventus and Inter Milan.
Milan won its last Serie A title in 2011.
Prosecutors 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.
The Last Bet operation started a few years after the 2006
Italian match-fixing scandal, which revealed arrangements with
referees and resulted in Juventus being stripped of the 2005 and
2006 Serie A titles.
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