Catania chief admits match-fixing: prosecutor

A match-fixing scandal in Italy that has rocked Catania took a new twist on Monday when the Serie B club's president admitted to buying the results of five league games in a bid to "save the club".

Catania chief admits match-fixing: prosecutor
Catania club president Antonino Pulvirenti. Photo: MArcello Paternostro

Italian police arrested seven people in connection with the affair last week after evidence from wire-taps suggested that several fixtures in Italy's second division had been fixed.

Among the arrested was Catania club president Antonino Pulvirenti, who, following questioning on Monday, told prosecutors he had fixed five games, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Antonino Pulvirenti has confirmed that he bought (the results of) matches from the Varese-Catania game onwards, and that he paid €100,000 for each one,” Catania's lead prosecutor Giovanni Salvi said in the report. “He did it to save Catania.”

The prosecutor said Pulvirenti had “denied betting” on the games in question but the confession flies in the face of a statement issued last week by Pulvirenti's lawyer, Giovanni Grasso. He had said: “He will do everything he can to show his complete innocence, with facts.”

The club's sporting director Pablo Cosentino and ex-sporting director Daniele Delli Carri were arrested along with Pulvirenti last week.

Cosentino also faced questioning on Monday but denied knowing “anything about any fixing”, according to Gazzetta's report.

Among the matches in question are Catania-Livorno, Catania-Avellino, Catania-Trapani, Catania-Latina and, in relation to another probe, Messina-Ischia.

Dubbed “the Goal Trains” by prosecutors, the scandal is just the latest in a series of affairs to hit Italian football.

Previously rocked in the past by the Calcioscommesse (2012) and Calciopoli (2006) scandals, the most recent affairs in Italy have been far less significant but have shown that match-fixing remains a problem in the lower leagues.

Last month an investigation dubbed “Dirty Soccer” by the Italian media led to 50 arrests in connection with illegal match-fixing in 31 matches, mainly in Italy's lower professional leagues.

Television reports in Italy showed how investigators used wiretaps to record conversations and snare those implicated in the case.

“At least five games, maybe six were fixed and sums of money given to players,” said Catania prosecutor Salvi.

“Other individuals are being investigated but they will remain unnamed.”

Catania, based in Sicily, were relegated from Serie A in 2014 and finished last season just below mid-table in Serie B.

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Champions League: Eight arrested after fans clash with police in Naples

Smoke bombs, flares, chairs, bottles and metal poles were thrown at police in Naples' historic centre on Wednesday, as Eintracht Frankfurt fans descended on the city despite a ban.

Champions League: Eight arrested after fans clash with police in Naples

Three German football fans and five Italians were arrested following violence in Naples before and after Napoli’s Champions League win over Eintracht Frankfurt, a local official said on Thursday.

Six police officers were injured in violence on Wednesday evening, according to Alessandro Giuliano, who is responsible for public safety in Naples.

Police were in the process of identifying 470 German fans who arrived in the city, and were scouring images to establish those responsible for the disorder, he told a press conference.

Dozens of supporters of Atalanta also joined forces with supporters of the German side, with whom they are twinned.

The first clashes occurred on Wednesday afternoon in Naples’ historic centre, and continued after the match, an easy 3-0 win for Napoli which took them through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

Smoke bombs and flares, chairs, bottles and metal poles were thrown at police, who responded with tear gas. Later, Napoli fans were filmed by Italian media throwing objects at buses carrying Eintracht fans.

Naples mayor Gaetano Manfredi condemned the “unacceptable” violence, while opposition politicians have questioned the government’s handling of the situation, notably by Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi.

Napoli player Juan Jesus said the disorder was “bad for the city, and bad for football”.

“Because people come, then destroy, then leave, it’s not a good thing. It’s not possible to still see this in 2023, we are sorry to see these scenes,” he said.

The German supporters had travelled to southern Italy, with many arriving in Naples by train, even though Eintracht decided against selling tickets for the away section in Naples for the second leg of the last 16 tie.

Eintracht Frankfurt fans clash with anti-riot police after arriving in Naples despite not having tickets for their team’s Champions League decider with Napoli. (Photo by Ciro FUSCO / ANSA / AFP)

The Frankfurt club decided not to take up their allocation after the Naples prefecture decided on Sunday to ban residents of the German city from buying tickets.

A earlier Italian ban on Eintracht fans who lived anywhere in Germany was overturned.

Sunday’s decision came after violence in the first leg that was won 2-0 by Napoli in Frankfurt, which led to nine people being taken into custody.

Eintracht fans have been under close surveillance by European governing body UEFA since the pitch invasion which greeted the club reaching the final of the Europa League, which they won by beating Scottish club Rangers.