Rome: Italian police investigating a soccer match-fixing scandal placed Juventus trainer Antonio Conte under investigation and arrested the captain of Lazio Stefano Mauri and former Genoa midfielder Omar Milanetto, authorities said on Monday.
The Italian football federation said Mauri was one of 14 people arrested. Italian authorities swept through the Italy national team training site near Florence on Monday and made more than a dozen arrests elsewhere as part of a wide-ranging investigation into match-fixing in football.
Mauri has been accused of sporting fraud. Most of the footballers accused now play in Serie B or lower leagues, although Omar Milanetto spent five years at Genoa before joining Padova in 2011.
A police statement said five people had also been arrested in Hungary on suspicion of being part of an illegal international betting ring headed by Singaporean gambling identity Tan Seet Eng, who was arrested in December.
Police in the northern city of Cremona said they had made 19 arrests, 11 of whom are footballers or former footballers — 14 have been arrested, three have been placed under house arrest and two others are to present themselves to authorities. And they were investigating Conte, fresh from his triumph in leading Juventus to the Italian Serie A championship for the first time since the club was relegated in 2006 in an earlier match-fixing scandal.
He is being investigated on suspicion of sporting fraud and fraudulent association over allegations concerning a match between his previous club Siena and Novara in April 2011.
"Conte's reaction is that of someone who's completely innocent and strongly determined to prove his total innocence," Conte's lawyer, Antonio De Rencis, said.
Siena president Massimo Mezzaroma has also been placed under investigation.
Police are also investigating Italy and Zenit St. Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito a week before the national team leaves for the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine. Two police cars arrived at the national team's training site at around 6:25am local time (0425 GMT) and left more than two hours later. Criscito's house in Genoa was also searched.
Criscito, who did not take part in Italy's training session, has reportedly asked to be heard by the authorities as soon as possible.
It said searches were conducted at the homes of a number of players, trainers and administrators of clubs in Serie A, Serie B and the lower division Lega Pro on suspicion of involvement in match-fixing on behalf of international criminal organizations.
"It's devastating news," former Italy and current Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni said. "If the authorities are acting it's because there's something there."
Monday's operation was part of 'Last Bet', a wider investigation into match-fixing in Italian soccer which has already seen a number of arrests of current and former Italian players.
"In this part of the investigation, indications have emerged of manipulation in matches from the 2010-11 Serie A championship, including games between Lazio and Genoa and Lecce and Lazio," Raffale Grassi, director of SCO, the police service responsible for the investigation told SkyTG24 television.
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' match-fixing scandal involving Serie B matches last season.
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 part in the same scandal.
Serie A clubs Atalanta, Novara and Siena were among the 22 Italian teams notified at the beginning of this month that they are being investigated by sports authorities.
Prosecutors in Cremona have detailed an extensive match-fixing ring stretching as far as Singapore and South America that was allegedly in operation for more than 10 years. More than 50 people have now been arrested in Italy in the past year as part of the probe started by judicial authorities in Cremona.