ITALIAM PM WANTS LEAGUE SUSPENSION
Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti says domestic football in Italy needs a break of "two to three years" to let match-fixing to be cleansed.
A second match-fixing scandal in the six years is currently gripping Italy, with the latest stage of a probe carried out by Cremona prosecutors on Monday resulting in the arrests of 19 people, among them Lazio captain Stefano Mauri.
Also among those under investigation is Italy international Domenico Criscito, who was considered a certainty to make the Azzurri's Euro 2012 squad but was dropped on Monday.
"We must reflect and evaluate if it would not be useful to have a total suspension of the game for two to three years," Monti told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"This is not a government proposal, but it is something that I, who have been for many years a football fan, feel inside me.
"It is particularly sad when a world such as sport that should be an expression of high values, proves to appear a concentration of the most reprehensible aspects such as disloyalty, illegality and falseness."
Yesterday's operation is part of an investigation called "Last Bet", which focuses on 33 games over the past two seasons, the majority of which were in Serie B.
Earlier this month, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) released a comprehensive 48-page list naming 22 clubs along with 61 individuals that have been reported to the football authorities in connection with a match-fixing ring and betting investigation.
The latest inquiry is a big blow to football in Italy, which had gradually been recovering from the scandal that rocked the nation six years ago.
In 2006, a match-fixing probe led to Juventus being stripped of two titles and relegation to Serie B after they were found guilty of influencing referees.
"There is bitterness and sadness for what has happened," FIGC president Giancarlo Abete said. "It is totally unacceptable.
"This latest situation makes us reflect because there have been certain elements that have managed to enter the sporting system.
"Everyone will nevertheless have the possibility to defend themselves in the legal and sporting trials."
A trial carried out by a sporting tribunal will begin on Thursday and Lega Serie A president Maurizio Beretta hopes the process will not drag on.
"We hope it will be fast and that drastic punishments are handed out to those individuals that have stained a world that should focus on credibility and transparency," Beretta said.
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