ROME: Two Serie A referees have been suspended after being drawn into an ongoing investigation into suspected mafia-linked illegal betting and match-fixing in Italy's top three divisions.
Marco Gabriele and Luca Palanca, who have officiated a total of 46 Serie A matches between them, were among the latest group of 14 people – including footballers and club directors – named by Napoli-based police on Monday.
“In these cases a cautionary stop is standard procedure,” the president of the Italian Referees Association (AIA), Tullio Lanese, was quoted as saying on the website of the Italian Football Federation.
“I would like to stress, however, that a warning that one is under investigation is not the same as a conviction.
“Proof is needed to demonstrate any eventual responsibility. For this reason we await the outcome of the investigation.”
The probe, which was launched in May, had already involved raids on 14 clubs in Italy’s Serie A, B and C1, including top-flight sides Sampdoria, Lecce, Reggina and Chievo Verona.
Italian soccer was hit by a gambling and match-fixing scandal in the early 1980s and there have been several smaller cases since. A number of unrelated investigations into Italian soccer are currently under way, focusing on false accounting and suspicion of fraud. – Reuters