Gattuso under investigation for match-fixing

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AP

Former AC Milan and Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso . Picture: AP Photo/Luca Bruno

Rome – Former AC Milan and Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso was placed under investigation for match-fixing on Tuesday as the widening Italian inquiry into football corruption targeted Milan's last title campaign.

Four others were arrested in an early morning police sweep.

Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino, who has been leading the Last Bet operation for three years, confirmed to The Associated Press that Gattuso and retired Milan and Lazio player Cristian Brocchi were allegedly part of a ring that fixed Serie A and other Italian matches at the end of the 2010-11 season.

The four people arrested were Salvatore Spadaro, Francesco Bazzani, Cosimo Rinci and Fabio Quadri. Each of them allegedly helped connect fixers to players, Di Martino said.

Gattuso and Brocchi face charges of criminal conspiracy and sports fraud, according to the ANSA news agency, and had their homes searched. About 20 other people were also placed under investigation.

“Gattuso and Brocchi were connected to the case by the use of phone taps,” said Di Martino, who could not confirm the exact charges.

Gattuso, who was part of the Italy squad that won the 2006 World Cup, was fired as Palermo manager in September. Brocchi is currently coaching in AC Milan's youth program.

“I spoke to Rino and he's (stunned),” Gattuso's lawyer, Andre D'Amico, told ANSA, using the former player's nickname. “Right now it's important not to draw any conclusions and rather wait and see why these names are coming out.”

Police said in a statement that the arrests were carried out in Milan, Bologna, Rimini and Messina.

Di Martino said a couple of the arrested people met as recently as this year, suggesting matches continue to be fixed.

“About 30 matches, a good part of them involving Serie A, are under investigation,” Di Martino said.

More specifically, the Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Milan matches against Lazio, Chievo Verona and Bari in February and March 2011 were under investigation, plus games involving Juventus and Inter Milan.

Milan won their last Serie A title in 2011.

The Last Bet operation has resulted in more than 50 people being arrested and more than 100 placed under investigation in Italy since mid-2011, with matches under investigation by prosecutors in Cremona, Bari and Naples.

It has resulted in lengthy bans for former Lazio captains Giuseppe Signori and Stefano Mauri, as well as former Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni. Several clubs have also had points deducted.

Prosecutors have detailed an extensive match-fixing ring stretching as far as Singapore and South America that was allegedly in operation for more than 10 years.

The arrests of 14 people in Singapore in September was hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against corruption in football, with the global network's suspected mastermind among those taken into custody.

The Last Bet operation came only a few years after the 2006 Italian match-fixing scandal, which revealed arrangements with referees and resulted in Juventus being stripped of the 2005 and 2006 Serie A titles. – Sapa-AP


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