Fixing gaze falls on Gennaro Gattuso
Former AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, one of the key players in Italy's World Cup-winning team in 2006, was placed under investigation for match-fixing on Tuesday as an inquiry into football corruption targeted Milan's last title campaign.
Four others were arrested in an early morning police sweep.
Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino, who has been leading the Last Bet operation for three years, told The Associated Press that Gattuso and retired Milan and Lazio player Cristian Brocchi were allegedly part of a ring that fixed Serie A and other Italian matches at the end of the 2010-11 season.
"About 30 matches, a good part of them involving Serie A, are under investigation," Di Martino told the AP.
Gattuso said he was "angry and offended". "This stuff is absurd and incredible," Gattuso told SportMediaset TV. "I don't even know what it means to fix a match, I wouldn't know where to start. Let's see what happens now but I'm certain that everything will be cleared up."
Brocchi's agent, Davide Lippi, said his client was innocent.
The four people arrested on Tuesday were Salvatore Spadaro, Francesco Bazzani, Cosimo Rinci and Fabio Quadri. Each of them allegedly helped connect fixers to players, Di Martino said of the case that has seen more than 50 people arrested since mid-2011.
Di Martino said a couple of the people arrested met as recently as this year, suggesting matches continue to be fixed.
"We're seeing clear facts that despite the arrests and investigations a good part of these people continue to do what they did before," Di Martino said later in a news conference, lamenting that past arrests have not made much of an impact. There certainly were not big reactions in Italy, considering that things continue to go on like before."
Gattuso and Brocchi face charges of criminal association with the aim of fraud and sports fraud, and had their homes searched. About 20 other people were also placed under investigation.