Atalanta player arrested over match-fixing

02 April 2012 06:16

Atalanta's Andrea Masiello has been arrested in a new probe into match-fixing in Italian football.

Bari prosecutors had ordered an investigation into match-fixing involving the city's club following new evidence that players were paid bribes to help determine the outcome of various matches.

Masiello, a defender, was arrested at his home in Bergamo and taken to Bari for questioning.

He later admitted under questioning to have scored an own goal in a 2-0 defeat top Lecce in return for 50,000-euros.

He spent three years at Bari before joining Atalanta last summer.

Two other men, Giovanni Carella and Fabio Giacobbe, who were friends of Masiello and placed bets, were also arrested.

Prosecutors are looking into five Bari matches from the last two seasons and are investigating nine ex-Bari players, including Masiello.

In total 20 people are being investigated.

As well as Masiello, Daniele Portanova, Alessandro Parisi, Simone Bentivolgio, Marco Rossi, Abdelkader Ghezzal, who now plays in Spain with Levante, Marco Esposito, Antonio Bellavista and Nicola Belmonte are under investigation.

One of the primary matches under investigation is the one against Lecce which Masiello helped fix.

"For Bari v Lecce on May 15, 2011, we've ascertained during the investigation that guarantees were made and then exchanged for money at the end of the game," said Bari prosecutor Antonio Laudati.

Lecce won that match 2-0, ensuring they avoided relegation.

Other matches under investigation are a 3-0 win over Genoa and a 3-3 draw at Udinese in May 2010, as well as a 1-0 defeat to Cesena on April 17 last year and a 4-0 win at Bologna on the last day of that season.

Former Bari midfielder Rossi, who now plays for Cesena, told investigators that at the end of last season players were approached by some of the club's 'ultra' fans.

They were told to lose the next two games, against Cesena and Sampdoria, because the ultras had placed bets on a pair of defeats.

Rossi claims that despite being threatened, the players refused to comply, although they did lose both those games, condemning them to relegation.

Speaking to a sports radio station, Bari general manager Claudio Garzelli moved to distance the club from any wrong-doing.

"These measures do not change in any way the scenario that has been created around our club," he said.

"We took a very decisive position and maybe we were the first to speculate that all those people hanging around our players were involved in match-fixing.

"We asked the football federation (Figc) for permission to denounce some players for match-fixing and this only serves to confirm our position.

"Apart from a few cases of questionable behaviour related to some internal diatribe, I never had any reason to believe that Masiello could be involved in any fraudulent activity."

Figc president Giancarlo Abete promised a zero-tolerance policy and said the federation would act quickly to take sporting sanctions against those found guilty.

A series of investigations into match-fixing and illegal sports betting have been ongoing since last summer in Italy.

Several sides, mostly in the lower divisions, have been docked points this season for their involvement, including Atalanta, who started their Serie A campaign with a six-point penalty.

Their former emblematic striker Cristiano Doni was banned for three and a half years for his involvement, thus ending his playing career.

He was also later arrested by Cremona prosecutors in a separate investigation and eventually admitted to his role.

Former Lazio and Italy forward Giuseppe Signori was another to be banned from footballing activities by Figc, although he had long retired anyway.

He was also briefly placed under house arrest by police and is still being investigated.

Source: AFP

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