Trapattoni slams match-fixing scandal

Giovanni Trapattoni has described the latest match-fixing scandal to hit Italy as "devastating" and believes it further tarnishes the image of Italian football.

Giovanni Trapattoni

The Republic of Ireland coach was shocked by the news that several players, including Lazio captain Stefano Mauri and former Genoa midfielder Omar Milanetto, have been arrested today by police in connection with a match-fixing probe carried out by Cremona prosecutors.

"It is a devastating story," Trapattoni told Gazzetta dello Sport. "If the magistrates are doing something, it is because there is some truth in this.

"I, who have travelled abroad for some time, must say that we give an ugly image of our football.

"As an Italian, the first feeling is that we are mocked abroad, we are always linked to illicit dealings and are considered mafia members.

"This only damages us because I can claim to have paid the price for an attitude that affects everyone."

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) confirmed that Mauri and Milanetto have been held over allegations of "criminal association and sporting fraud".

Officers are searching more than 31 homes in Italy and abroad, including those of coaches and players of clubs in Serie A, Serie B and lower divisions.

Police also showed up this morning at Italy's training ground in Coverciano, Florence, to question former Genoa defender Domenico Criscito, who now plays for Zenit St Petersburg.

A statement from the FIGC read: "As part of the investigation carried out by prosecutors of Cremona regarding match-fixing, prosecutor Guido Salvini has issued 19 procedures: 14 people arrested (including Mauri and Milanetto), 31 home searches and two people questioned.

"Police agents also arrived to Italy's training ground in Coverciano this morning to hand a notification of impeding investigation to defender Domenico Criscito, who is investigated for acts that would have taken place while he was a Genoa player."

Trapattoni, whose side were paired with Italy in Group C at the upcoming European Championship, does not believe the latest scandal will have a negative impact on the Azzurri, however.

Italy won the 2006 World Cup in Germany despite having the cloud of a match-fixing scandal hanging over them at the time.

"It's clear that certain stories provoke anger," Trapattoni said. "But it could also give a push (to the team) to prove the clean face of football."

Italian Olympic Committee vice-president Luca Pancalli was equally saddened by the latest football scandal to rock the nation.

"The courage to speak must be there in order to put an end to this issue and to start again," he said to Gazzetta.

"As a man of sport and as a citizen I feel infinite sadness.

"The sporting justice has other time limits with respect to the ordinary justice and it's clear that there will be (sporting) repercussions."

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli was set to announce his Euro 2012 squad today.

However, reports in Italy claim the announcement could be postponed until tomorrow due to Criscito's involvement in the investigation.

Criscito's agent Andrea D'Amico insists his client is not concerned.

He said to Gazzetta dello Sport: "I have spoken to Mimmo (Domenico) this morning and he is absolutely calm.

"Mimmo is ready to explain anything that may have caused him to be under the spotlight.

"Our legal team is working in order for the magistrates to listen to him as soon as possible."

Criscito sat out training this morning.

Today's operation is part of an investigation called "Last Bet" carried out by prosecutors in Cremona which focuses on 33 games over the past two seasons, the majority of which were in Serie B.

Earlier this month, the FIGC released a comprehensive 48-page list naming 22 clubs along with 61 individuals that have been reported to the football authorities in connection with a match-fixing ring and betting investigation.

Seventeen people were arrested by Italian police last year, including Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni.

Atalanta, who had been promoted to Serie A at the end of the 2010-11 season, began the recently completed campaign with a six-point deduction as punishment for match-fixing.

Doni was banned from football for three and a half years by the FIGC's disciplinary committee.



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