Italy's Euro 2012 squad in crisis as match-fixing rears head again

Clearing up latest match-rigging scandal is game's 'most important' responsibility

The man who oversaw Fifa's attempts to combat the spread of match-fixing last night described the escalating scandal in Italy that has disrupted the country's preparations for Euro 2012 as the "most important" the sport has seen. He also warned there is more revelations to come involving rigged games.

Yesterday, Italy's first-choice left-back, Domenico Criscito, pulled out of the squad for the European Championship after a dawn raid at the national team's training centre near Florence by police investigating possible match-fixing in Serie A and B. There were reports in Italy last night that the authorities have also interviewed Leonardo Bonucci, the Juventus defender who remains part of Cesare Prandelli's squad for the finals.

A dramatic day for Italian football also saw the arrest of Stefano Mauri, captain of Lazio, and Juventus manager Antonio Conte, fresh from winning Serie A in his first season in Turin, being informed he too is being investigated. The investigations do not surround their current positions.

"The Italian investigation is now the most important investigation into football match-fixing in the world today," said Chris Eaton, Fifa's former head of security. "It is a truly international investigation and will certainly cut off a few heads of this international monster that is feeding off football. I am not surprised [by its scale] – I am afraid there is more to come.

"The problem at the international level has existed essentially unchallenged for the last 10 years. The money available is so attractive that the criminals involved and their organisations are taking risks. The threat to the integrity of sport cannot be overstated."

Police officers spent three hours at Italy's training base near Florence yesterday morning where the national side are preparing for a warm-up game against Luxembourg tonight. Bonucci is expected to play.

Criscito was questioned by police officers as well as having his room searched. The defender, who now plays for Zenit St Petersburg, later decided to drop out of the squad for Euro 2012, in which Italy have been grouped with Republic of Ireland, to concentrate on clearing his name. He denies any wrong-doing, as do all those named in conjunction with the investigation yesterday.

Criscito was questioned over his time with Genoa – former Genoa midfielder Omar Milanetto was among those arrested by police based in Cremona in the north of Italy.

The Cremona prosecutor alleges Criscito was photographed last year in a restaurant with those suspected of arranging match-fixing. Criscito said on leaving the Italian camp: "I have nothing to do with this. I was only out for dinner with some Genoa fans."

Prandelli, the Italy manager, suggested there was no way he could include Criscito in his final squad because of the pressure the defender will now be under. He said: "I am not taking Criscito because he would have been under pressure which no human being can bear. The other reason is that he could have been summoned by the prosecutor at any moment, before a match."

Conte's home in Turin was searched as part of an investigation into his time as manager of Siena in 2010/11.

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli gave his full support to Conte and Bonucci. He said: "Conte will be Juventus manager next year. We are beside him and beside Bonucci as well."

Yesterday's developments, which included 14 arrests and the search of 31 homes, are the latest stage in Operation Last Bet, an investigation that has so far seen two former Italian internationals, Cristiano Doni and Beppe Signori, arrested and banned. The focus has largely been on Serie B but a police spokesperson yesterday indicated that there are questions over a couple of top-flight games, particularly Lazio against Genoa and Lazio against Lecce in season 2010/11. Earlier this month the Italian football federation released a 48-page document naming 22 clubs and 61 people who have been reported to police over match-fixing.

Police have also arrested five Hungarians with links to south-east Asian criminal syndicates.

Eaton left Fifa this month to join the Qatar-based International Center for Sport Security as its director of sport integrity. A former Interpol officer, the Australian joined Fifa ahead of the 2010 World Cup finals and then oversaw the governing body's first concerted drive to tackle match-fixing.

"It has taken a long time for international football to appreciate the gravity and global scale of the problem," said Eaton. "[But] take comfort in these investigations and exposures. The environment is now informed and ready to tackle this problem."

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?