Over 50 arrested in Italy match-fixing sweep

UPDATED: More than 50 people have been arrested and 30 are under investigation as part of an inquiry into match-fixing in Italian football, with some of the alleged fraud linked to mafia organizations.

Over 50 arrested in Italy match-fixing sweep
Italian has been hit by another match-fixing scandal. Photo: Photo: Shutterstock

The probe, called 'Dirty Soccer', involves alleged match-fixing across the country’s third and fourth divisions, La Stampa reported on Tuesday.

Thirty-three clubs are allegedly involved, including Pro Patria, Brindisi, L’Aquila, Sorrento and San Severo.

The charges include criminal association aimed at sports fraud, some linked to mafia groups, including Calabria’s infamous ‘Ndrangheta.

The inquiry, which was led by anti-mafia prosecutors in the southern town of Catanzaro, discovered a network between footballers, managers and club presidents, La Stampa reported.

It is the latest in a string of betting and other scandals to tarnish the reputation of Italian football and implicate some of its biggest clubs and players.

Authorities uncovered compelling evidence of attempted or actual match-fixing related to betting in 1980 and 1986.

The first of these two “Totonero” scandals famously resulted in Paolo Rossi being banned for three years. The ban was reduced to two years on appeal and Rossi returned to fire Italy to World Cup glory in Spain in 1982.

A major 2006 investigation into the corruption of referees resulted in Juventus being relegated and a new scandal centred on betting on minor details of matches rather than results erupted in 2011.

Known as “Calcioscommesse” that investigation overshadowed Italy's Euro 2012 campaign with investigators visiting the national team's training camp to question defender Domenico Criscito, who was subsequently withdrawn from the squad. Criscito was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?