6 June 2011
One of Italy’s most famous former footballers has been arrested along with 15 other players. They are accused of pre-arranging the outcome of games. The fallout could affect the battle for promotion to the top division, Serie A.
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What began with the arrest of a football legend is now threatening to cast a shadow over some of Italy's biggest clubs. When the diminutive former Italy striker Beppe Signori was arrested by police looking into an alleged betting scam, it looked as if the teams most directly affected were Atalanta and Siena - big enough names in Italy, both recently promoted to Serie A - but hardly household names abroad.
It's now emerged, though, that police are investigating four or five matches involving some of the biggest clubs in the land. The clubs themselves have not been accused of any wrongdoing. What investigators say they've uncovered is systematic match-fixing by a corrupt betting syndicate based in Bologna, which is even alleged to have spiked players' drinks in order to affect their performance.
Coming just five years after Italy's biggest club, Juventus, was relegated for its part in the country's worst-ever match-fixing scandal the news is unlikely to restore Italians' battered faith in their footballing heroes.
Mark Duff, BBC News, Milan
Click to hear the vocabulary
- to cast a shadow over
to make something look bad or less impressive
- looking into
- betting scam
illegal or dishonest scheme for making money, based around betting on sports (here, football games)
- household names
people who are very famous, and well known by people
acting in a bad or illegal way
illegal scheme which involves criminals paying footballers to make sure a game ends in a particular way (e.g. one team loses)
- betting syndicate
group of people who work together to gain money by betting on sports
here, moved down from one football league to the one below it