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Football: Task force to probe suspected mafia ties to soccer match fixing

last update: June 06, 13:49

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Rome, 6 Jun (AKI) - Italy will create a task force to investigate possible links between the mafia and soccer match fixing in the wake of a burgeoning scandal that resulted in the arrest of 16 people in late May.

"I've given the order to the head of police to create an investigative task drive away those who fraudulently change the rules of sports matches," interior minister Roberto Maroni told sports daily Il Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview published Monday.

Italian state police chief Antonio Manganelli "has asked special service units...for a report on the relationship between the mafia and rigged soccer and betting on the games," Maroni said in the interview.

Sixteen people were arrested 31 May on suspicion of rigging matches in Serie B and other minor leagues. Investigators have since said that some games in Italy's top Serie A may also have been fixed.

Among those arrested was former Italy striker Giuseppe Signori, while ex-Sampdoria defender Stefano Bettarini is also a target in the probe.

Executives in Serie B and C, as well as bookmakers are also being probed for possible involvement in the alleged gambling ring.

Police in Cremona near the northern city of Milan began investigating the case six months ago after some players were allegedly offered drinks containing sedatives during a game.

In 2006 a match-fixing scandal hit Serie A resulting in Turin club Juventus' demotion to Serie B and point reductions for Lazio, Milan and Fiorentina.

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