"Operation Dirty Soccer" probes Italy's Pro and D League football championships
The Italian news agency AGI reports that 50 individuals have been arrested by police this week following match fixing investigations under "Operation Dirty Soccer".
The police are investigating Italy's Pro and D League football championships in a probe that involves 70 suspects and at least 30 clubs.
Arrest warrants were issued by the Anti-Mafia District Directorate at the Public Prosecutor's Office of Catanzaro, in Calabria, in southern Italy, and these were executed by police teams in more than 20 provinces.
The arrests involved football players, club managers and presidents and were based on charges of conspiring to commit fraud.
Initial reports indicate that some of those arrested belong to a transnational Mafia gang. One of those held is a member of the Iannazzo family, a powerful criminal gang in the 'ndrangheta based in Lamezia, Calabria.
The Chief Prosecutor of Catanzaro, Vincenzo Antonio Lombardo, told AGI: "What comes out is a slice of national and transnational crime involving several foreigners."
Illustrating the international nature of the fraud, government officials claimed that three Serbians financed bets in Italy and also provided information on the premier league in China, basketball championships and tennis tournaments abroad.
More serious crimes were also the consequence of the illegal mactivity, officials allege, revealing that an Albanian has been accused of kidnapping.
"When games didn't finish with the agreed result, big arguments broke out between the financiers and the managers of the clubs. One of these fights ended with the kidnapping of one of the managers," said Prosecutor Lombardo.
Carlo Tavecchio, president of Federcalcio or FIGC, the Football Association said that the game does not in any way benefit from such scandals.
"We are the aggrieved party and we want to defend the system against all this but the means we have are not sufficient", Tavecchio said. "When betting was extended to the D League I, without being consulted, said that it was a very big mistake and now the result is there for everybody to see."
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