A Mafia clan bribed footballers to fix several games in Italy's second division or Serie B, according to a police investigation. The Vanella Grassi Camorra group from Naples allegedly gambled large sums of money on two matches against a team from the nearby town of Avellino, the U.S. Avellino, after bribing players in 2014.
Police arrested ten suspects, including two players, accused of involvement in the match-fixing ring alleged to have manipulated Avellino's 3-0 win over Reggina and 1-0 loss to Modena. "We got to eat three meatballs," an alleged clan affiliate was heard saying in a taped conversation in what detectives said was a coded reference to the desired final score of the first game in question.
To secure the result the gang pledged up to €50,000 (£38,000, $56,000) to some players. It then bet €400,000 on the game making a profit of €110,000, police stated. Mobsters gambled the same amount on the Modena game, winning €60,000.
Former Avellino players Luca Pini, now retired, and Francesco Millesi who has since moved to Acireale have been placed under house arrest in connection with the probe. Defender Armando Izzo, who now plays for Serie A side Genoa and was recently selected for the provisional national team squad ahead of Euro 2016 is also under investigation.
Police believe the 24-year-old, a nephew of the Vanella Grassi boss Salvatore Petriccione, served as a go-between introducing several players to the clan. U.S. Avellino said they were cooperating with the investigation protesting no accusations had been brought against the management.
The case is the last in a series of match-fixing scandals to hit Italian football. In 2011 several Serie A players were among more than 100 people placed under investigation as part of the so-called operation Last Bet. Italy's coach and future Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was acquitted of related sporting fraud over accusations on 16 May.