Catania chief admits match-fixing: prosecutor

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Catania club president Antonino Pulvirenti. Photo: MArcello Paternostro
15:04 CEST+02:00
A match-fixing scandal in Italy that has rocked Catania took a new twist on Monday when the Serie B club's president admitted to buying the results of five league games in a bid to "save the club".

Italian police arrested seven people in connection with the affair last week after evidence from wire-taps suggested that several fixtures in Italy's second division had been fixed.

Among the arrested was Catania club president Antonino Pulvirenti, who, following questioning on Monday, told prosecutors he had fixed five games, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Antonino Pulvirenti has confirmed that he bought (the results of) matches from the Varese-Catania game onwards, and that he paid €100,000 for each one," Catania's lead prosecutor Giovanni Salvi said in the report. "He did it to save Catania."

The prosecutor said Pulvirenti had "denied betting" on the games in question but the confession flies in the face of a statement issued last week by Pulvirenti's lawyer, Giovanni Grasso. He had said: "He will do everything he can to show his complete innocence, with facts."

The club's sporting director Pablo Cosentino and ex-sporting director Daniele Delli Carri were arrested along with Pulvirenti last week.

Cosentino also faced questioning on Monday but denied knowing "anything about any fixing", according to Gazzetta's report.

Among the matches in question are Catania-Livorno, Catania-Avellino, Catania-Trapani, Catania-Latina and, in relation to another probe, Messina-Ischia.

Dubbed "the Goal Trains" by prosecutors, the scandal is just the latest in a series of affairs to hit Italian football.

Previously rocked in the past by the Calcioscommesse (2012) and Calciopoli (2006) scandals, the most recent affairs in Italy have been far less significant but have shown that match-fixing remains a problem in the lower leagues.

Last month an investigation dubbed "Dirty Soccer" by the Italian media led to 50 arrests in connection with illegal match-fixing in 31 matches, mainly in Italy's lower professional leagues.

Television reports in Italy showed how investigators used wiretaps to record conversations and snare those implicated in the case.

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"At least five games, maybe six were fixed and sums of money given to players," said Catania prosecutor Salvi.

"Other individuals are being investigated but they will remain unnamed."

Catania, based in Sicily, were relegated from Serie A in 2014 and finished last season just below mid-table in Serie B.

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