11/24/09 – Reports over the weekend that a massive police action is in progress across Europe in an attempt to stamp out football cheating and corruption have been followed by news of nine more arrests in Italy and a crisis meeting called by FIFA.
Police in Rome announced Monday the arrest of nine people accused of illegal betting in Italian football. Amongst those arrested was the president of third division team Potenza, Giuseppe Postiglione and Pro Vastese sports director Luca Evangelista.
They are accused of being involved in organised crime and of sporting fraud relating to a number of bets placed on matches in the second and third divisions from 2007 to 2009.
One match under investigation is the Serie B encounter between Ravenna and Lecce on April 26, 2008, won 3-1 by the away side, on which Postiglione alledgedly placed a bet that won him Euro 86 000.
Giovanni Colangelo, the public prosecutor in Potenza, claimed match-fixing had been taking place.
This is not the first Italian scandal of this nature. In 2006 the Calciopoli scandal involved high-profile Serie A teams and resulted in Juventus being relegated to Serie B and stripped of their last two league titles. AC Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina and Reggina were also punished for their roles in alleged match-fixing.
Following the weekend disclosures, FIFA has called an emergency meeting in December to discuss questionable refereeing and obviating corruption in ‘the beautiful game' reports Bloomberg business news.
President Sepp Blatter called the meeting in response to refereeing that allowed a handball that helped send France to the World Cup last week and the arrest of suspects in Europe’s largest match-fixing investigation. There were also riots before and after a qualifying game between Algeria and Egypt.
“Due to recent events in the world of football, namely incidents at the playoffs for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, match control (refereeing) and irregularities in the football betting market, the FIFA president has called an extraordinary meeting of the executive committee,” FIFA said in a statement Monday.
Bloomberg reports that the police action in Europe follows raids in the U.K., Switzerland and Germany. Police said betting companies may have been defrauded out of as much as Euro 10 million euros in cheating and corruption scams.
“But this is just the tip of the iceberg,” investigating German prosecutor Andreas Bachmann said.
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