Uefa ‘worried’ by Italian match-fixing

Uefa said on Tuesday it had been shocked by reports that Italian second division games have been fixed for €100,000.

Uefa 'worried' by Italian match-fixing
Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino. Photo: Joe Klamar / AFP

Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino reacted after the president of Serie B club Catania reportedly admitted to buying the results of five matches in the past season.

“We are of course sad to learn what is happening. We are worried that a second division club can fix five matches paying €100,000per match,” Infantino told a press conference.

“We are worried about the situation and in general and that is why we are fighting against it.

“That's why we are working with the prosecutors, that's why we are working with associations.”

Italian police have arrested five people including Catania president Antonio Pulvirenti over the latest match-fixing scandal to rock Italian football. Pulvirenti made his confession on Monday, according to Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

“Unfortunately we are dealing with criminal organisations,” Infantino said of the Italian case.

Uefa is now using a sophisticated data collection system to monitor all first and second division games in Europe. There are also anti-fraud officers in each of Uefa's 54 members.

But another case involving Greek champions Olympiakos has also tainted Europe football.

The Pireaus team's owner Evangelos Marinakis has been banned from all football activities while a Greek judge looks into allegations that the shipping tycoon was part of a criminal gang that fixed Greek Super League matches between 2011 and 2013.

Infantino said that Olympiakos has been “provisionally” accepted for next season's Champions League while the investigation goes ahead.

“These kind of investigations can take some time. We need some clear evidence.”

Infantino said that in general, Uefa “cannot start taping phone calls or going to check bank accounts or whatever. For this we need the help of the prosecutors.”

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Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.