Halt Italian football for 2-3 years, says PM Monti

Image caption,
Stefano Mauri was arrested in a police raid on Monday

Professional football in Italy should be suspended for up to three years after a match-fixing row, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has suggested.

He said that the scandal had caused "profound sadness" across the country.

Mr Monti was speaking a day after a number of people - including Lazio's captain Stefano Mauri - were arrested.

Police are searching more than 30 homes, including those of players, trainers and administrators of clubs in Serie A, Serie B and lower divisions.

Juventus coach Antonio Conte, who just led the club to the Serie A title in his first season in charge, is among those being questioned by police.

Officers also visited Italy's pre-Euro 2012 training camp to question left-back Domenico Criscito.

The Italian football federation later announced that Criscito, who is now at Zenit St Petersburg in Russia, would not be selected for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine "in order to clear his name".

Five people were also arrested in Hungary on suspicion of being part of an illegal international betting ring.

Image caption,
Mr Monti said he was making the suggestion as a football fan

'Mere proposal'

"I wonder if it wouldn't be a good idea to suspend the game for two or three years," Mr Monti said on Tuesday.

"It's particularly sad when a world which should be an expression of the highest values - sport, youth, competition, fairness turns out to be a mass of foul play, falsehood and demagoguery."

However, Mr Monti acknowledged that his suggestion was not "a proposal by the government but a question I am asking".

Monday's arrests were part of a wider investigation which has already seen a number of arrests of current and former Italian players.

In June last year, the interior ministry set up a special match-fixing task force in response to a number of high-profile cases.

Former Atalanta captain and Italy midfielder Cristiano Doni was banned for three-and-a-half years in August for his part in the "Calcioscommesse" scandal involving Serie B matches last season. He was also arrested in December 2011 over match-fixing and betting allegations.

Atalanta, promoted from Serie B, were deducted six points in the top flight this season as a result of the scandal.

Former Lazio and Italy striker Giuseppe Signori was banned for five years, and 15 other players were banned for between one and five years for their involvement.

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