Saturday, March 28, 2009

Allegations Surface of Mafia Rigged Football Games in 2003

Serie A footballers Franco Brienza and Salvatore Aronica and the retired Vincenzo Montalbano are under investigation for match-rigging while playing for lower-division Ascoli in 2003, Il Giornale di Sicilia newspaper reported Tuesday. Police in Palermo could charge them with sports fraud in connection with an investigation on alleged ties between the Mafia and the local football club, the report said.

In the spring of 2003, the Mafia allegedly rigged Palermo's game against Ascoli with the help of the three footballers as the Sicily club vied for promotion to the Serie A.

Marcello Trapani, a former attorney for a Mafia family now collaborating with police, said that Brienza, 30, now at Reggina, Napoli's Aronica, 31, and Montalbano, 40, received 200,000 euros (271,000 dollars) for rigging the game, in which, however, they did not play.

Trapani appears to have heard of the scam from Rino Foschi, a former sports director of Palermo, now at Torino, who is also under investigation.

Palermo won the game 2-1 through a last-gasp goal, but the win was not enough to secure promotion, which they obtained a year later.

The three footballers face no charges from the sports judicial authorities due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Thanks to Earth Times

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