50 arrests in Italy 'Dirty Soccer' betting probe

Rome: Italian police on Tuesday detained dozens of lower league footballers and club officials in a new probe into suspect betting on matches linked to the 'Ndrangheta crime group.

Prosecutors in the mafia network's homeland of Calabria issued warrants for the arrest of 50 people across Italy and placed a further 30 under investigation in an inquiry entitled "Dirty Soccer." The probe focuses on dozens of matches this season and has implicated clubs in the Lega Pro and Serie D, the third and fourth tiers of Italian football respectively.

It is the latest in a string of betting and other scandals to tarnish the reputation of Italian football and implicate some of its biggest clubs and players. Authorities uncovered compelling evidence of attempted or actual match-fixing related to betting in 1980 and 1986. The first of these two "Totonero" scandals famously resulted in Paolo Rossi being banned for three years.

The ban was reduced to two years on appeal and Rossi returned to fire Italy to World Cup glory in Spain in 1982. A major 2006 investigation into the corruption of referees resulted in Juventus being relegated and a new scandal centred on betting on minor details of matches rather than results erupted in 2011.

Known as "Calcioscommesse" that investigation overshadowed Italy's Euro 2012 campaign with investigators visiting the national team's training camp to question defender Domenico Criscito, who was subsequently withdrawn from the squad. Criscito was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

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