Doni hits out at match-fixing claims(ESPN Soccernet)

Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni believes he is being made a scapegoat for the latest match-fixing scandal in Italian football.

Doni, who helped Atalanta gain promotion to Serie A last month, is among several people under investigation for alleged match-fixing and a betting ring in the country's lower leagues.

Former Italy striker Giuseppe Signori was one of 16 people arrested over the allegations last week.

''They want to make me as the scapegoat in this story,'' said Doni to Italian newspaper La Repubblica. ''I don't accept this. They are making me feel like a monster. They are damaging me.

''My name and that of Atalanta stand out from the rest for the media. It is a bigger story. The other players that have been arrested or are under investigation are either former players or are smaller fish to fry.''

Atalanta and Siena, who also gained promotion to Italy's top flight last month, are among the clubs under the spotlight.

The investigation carried out by police began following a Serie C match between Cremonese and Paganese last November. Cremonese players allegedly had their drinks spiked with drugs so they would not play well, with several players falling ill after the game.

Police said the investigation has produced evidence of an organised system among current and former players, club executives and bookmakers to manipulate results of a number of games in the lower divisions.

''It is a true and proper organisation dedicated to alter results of matches,'' said Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino. ''The scandal has emerged thanks to over 50,000 phone calls intercepted by police of those involved in the organisation. They thought they could speak freely on secured phone lines but they were intercepted too.''

A match-fixing scandal rocked Italian football during and after the 2006 World Cup that led to various clubs being hit with points deductions and Juventus being stripped of two Serie A titles.

Juve were also relegated to the second division after being found guilty of numerous infractions.







The Italian football betting scandal - A definitive timeline(Goal.com)

A national case explodes. During the night, there are 16 arrests made across the whole of Italy at the end of an investigation led by the police in Cremona on football and betting. Among the names involved are former footballers, directors of clubs and people outside the football world. One stands out - Giuseppe Signori, the former Italy international.

Seven of those arrested have been remanded in custody: Antonio Bellavista (ex footballer), Giorgio Buffone (Ravenna director of sport), Massimo Erodiani, Francesco Giannone, Marco Paoloni (Benevento goalkeeper), Gianfranco Parlato (ex footballer) and Marco Pirani.

Others have been placed on house arrest: Mauro Bressan (ex footballer), Manlio Bruni, Francesca La Civita, Vittorio Micolucci (Ascoli), Ismet Mehmeti, Giuseppe Signori (ex footballer), Vincenzo Sommese (Ascoli), Gianluca Tuccella and Almir Gegic.

Another 28 people are also under investigation. Among this group is Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni, who was allegedly involved in phone calls relating to the scandal, but these have not been established as of yet. Stefano Bettarini is also involved and in the past both have been under the microscope during previous betting investigations.

The majority of those under investigation are accused of being involved in an organisation that allegedly conditions results, mostly in Serie B and Lega Pro, but with some interest in Serie A. The Inter - Lecce game from the 2010-11 season is of concern, because consistent betting figures were said to have made considerable returns. For some there are allegations of criminal conspiracy, while for others it is in connection with fraud.

Repercussions for the competitions under probe are serious, as revealed by investigative judge Guido Salvini.

"The activities of the association are still ongoing and it is having an impact on the final phases of the various leagues, with big damages for clubs, loyal punters and on the fairness of these competitions," he said.

Here are the matches under scope during the police investigation entitled 'Last Bet':

League Date
Serie A
Inter - Lecce
Serie A
Brescia - Bologna
Serie B
Livorno - Ascoli
Serie B
Ascoli - Atalanta
Serie B
19/3/2011 Atalanta - Piacenza
Serie B
Padova - Atalanta
Serie B
Siena - Sassuolo
Lega Pro A
17/10/2010 Cremonese - Spezia
Lega Pro A
Monza - Cremonese
Lega Pro A
Cremonese - Paganese
Lega Pro A
Spal - Cremonese
Lega Pro A
Verona - Ravenna
Lega Pro A
Reggiana - Ravenna
Lega Pro A
Alessandria - Ravenna
Lega Pro A
Ravenna - Spezia
Lega Pro B
Benevento - Viareggio
Lega Pro B
Benevento - Cosenza
Lega Pro B
Taranto - Benevento
Lega Pro B
Benevento - Pisa

The investigation begun after a series of strange events during the Cremonese - Paganese match in Lega Pro which took place on November 14, 2010, and ended in a 2-0 win for the home side. During and following the encounter, around five players and a member of the technical staff noted that there was a strange atmosphere on the pitch and added that some performances were below standard. One of these, Carlo Gervasoni, was involved in a car crash on the way home.

The enquiries - which began following the allegations from Cremonese in relation to the game and were based on a number of telephone wiretaps - have allowed investigators to conclude the strange atmosphere was because Marco Paoloni, at the time a goalkeeper for the Lombardy-based club, had provided drinks that allegedly contained a tranquiliser. Paoloni, who now plays for Benevento, was trying to assure his team-mates performed below par and thus help to condition the outcome of the game.

Those that have been involved in the scandal have reacted. Signori simply said "have pity", while Atalanta and Siena both defended their positions with a number of official statements. Institutions such as the Italian FA (FIGC) have opened their own enquiry, while Italy internaitonals Alessandro Matri and Andrea Pirlo say that the whole affair is a "disgrace".

Thursday, June 2

Italian football awakes and is stunned by the latest scandal, as people analyse the possible effects of this page of history that so many want to be removed.

What risks for the clubs involved? How can it change the league's outcomes ahead of next season? It all depends on a case-by-case basis. Atalanta appear to be the club with most to lose, while Sampdoria moving back to Serie A is unlikely, though they are linked to a Serie A club being
involved in the 'Last Bet' investigations.

From hour to hour, plenty is discussed about the whole affair. All the headlines surround Doni, allegedly the most involved in Scommessopoli. The midfielder has claimed innocence.

Zdenek Zeman says he is "disgraced" when asked an opinion on the latest blow for Calcio, while Italy boss Cesare Prandelli invites everyone to stay calm. Luciano Moggi also reacts - but he is still fighting Calciopoli II at the Tribunal of Naples.

A number of reports linked to the case begin to emerge. Under the eye of investigators are Inter - Lecce (1-0), Atalanta - Piacenza (3-0), Livorno - Ascoli (1-1), and Alessandria - Ravenna (2-1).

Meanwhile, everything is ready for the investigators to ask questions in Cremona.

Friday, June 3

The day of interrogations begins with another big name entangled in proceedings. Daniele De Rossi is called to answer questions over the 4-3 result between Genoa and Roma last February. The discussions last a few hours, but it proves to be a false alarm and the public prosecutors in Cremona rubbish the allegations and suspicions over the game, in which the capital giants led 3-0 only to lose 4-3.

In the meantime, new claims and counter claims surface around the scandal. The organisation under investigation, and based in Milan, are alleged to have close links with Paoloni and the criminal underworld outside of football. Stefano Pallazzi, the investigator at FIGC, prepares to open his own case into what is happening in Cremona.

Among the hoard of papers and legal documents, the names of Claudio Lotito, Lazio president, and the Della Valles (Fiorentina owners) pop up. The feeling is a wave will hit the scandal head on from new angles with a number of high-profile individuals allegedly involved.

The protagonists line up in Cremona. The most significant information comes from Marco Pirani, who gives evidence for around four hours. The former footballer, now a dentist, says Serie A games were also fixed. Beppe Signori remains calm, but after the day's proceedings, his and Doni's position appears worse off.

Saturday June, 4

The lights shine on possible involvement from Serie A. "There are five teams involved, one of them is a big one," is the word from Cremona - where investigations continue.

Meanwhile, speculation increases over a game involving Catania and Chievo from January.

There are also rumours regarding Milan - Napoli, a game important to the destination of the Scudetto on February 28, although there is nothing to suggest anything incriminating from the evidence of phone calls which emerge.

Ravenna declare their position and they defend it staunchly by saying they are unaware of all the facts.

Meanwhile, investigators uncover a number of cheques totalling around €450,000 in the offices of Francesco Giannone, a Bologna-based businessman with close links to Signori, who was arrested on Wednesday.





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