The president of Catania and six others were arrested Tuesday for alleged match-fixing, in an apparent scheme to prevent the Sicilian club from relegation to the third division.
ROME (AP) — The president of Catania and six others were arrested Tuesday for alleged match-fixing, in an apparent scheme to prevent the Sicilian club from relegation to the third division.
In addition to Catania president Antonino Pulvirenti, club CEO Pablo Cosentino and former sporting director Daniele Delli Carri were also arrested under sports fraud charges.
The other four people arrested are betting agents or sports managers, police said.
A month ago, Catania finished 15th in the 22-team Serie B, safely avoiding the bottom four relegation spots.
Catania was relegated a year ago after eight consecutive seasons in Serie A, having matched a club record by finishing eighth in the top flight in 2013.
Pulvirenti's low-cost airline, Wind Jet, went into crisis and had to suspend operations three years ago.
Giovanni Grasso, Pulvirenti's lawyer said that his client "is certain he will be able to demonstrate his total non-involvement in the case."
Grasso added that Pulvirenti intends to immediately make a decision over his role with Catania, "so that he can defend himself with the utmost serenity and protect the interests of the sports club."
Police said the five matches under investigation were played against Varese, Trapani, Latina, Ternana and Livorno. Catania won the first four games in April, and then drew 1-1 with Livorno on May 2. A match against Avellino that Catania won 1-0 on May 19 was also being looked at.
Management members of Messina and players with Livorno, Varese and Trapani were placed under investigation in the operation that prosecutors have labeled "The goal trains."
The Italian football federation immediately opened a sports inquiry and requested documentation from the Catania prosecutors. The FIGC added that it had already opened proceedings for some of the games mentioned after they were pointed out for an unusually high number of bets.