Italian police raid 41 teams in tax probe

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PROSECUTORS in Naples yesterday launched an investigation into the tax affairs of 41 Italian football clubs by conducting a series of dawn raids.

The Guardia di Finanza (financial police) spent Tuesday morning executing search warrants at the offices of Serie A clubs including AC Milan, Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina.

Bari, Siena, Palermo, Pescara and Cesena are among the high-profile Serie B clubs being probed, while police also requisitioned paperwork from Lega Pro clubs including Gubbio and Portogruaro.

A statement published by the Procura di Napoli also confirmed several “foreign clubs” were under investigation, but the office declined to identify them.

The investigation concerns an alleged criminal conspiracy to avoid paying tax to authorities during the transfer of players.

The prosecutors seek to form a “complete reconstruction of the relationship between clubs and players who have, either directly or indirectly, been 
involved with football agents Alejandro Mazzoni and Alessandro Moggi”.

There are currently 12 football agents, including Mazzoni and Moggi, under investigation.

The latter is the son of former Napoli and Juventus administrator Luciano Moggi, who was involved in the 2006 Calciopoli referee-rigging scandal.

Players get match-fix ‘panic button’

Players who are approached to fix matches or who suspect games are being manipulated will be able to push a ‘panic ­button’ on their mobile phones to report their suspicions.

Under a new system developed with European funding, footballers across the continent, including in the UK, can now download an anti-match-fixing app to their phones and will be given a password to report any approaches via a red button.

The international players’ union FIFPro will make the system available to all players and it is now up and running ahead of the new season. Harri Syvasalmi, member of Finland’s sports ministry and chair of the European Union’s Expert Group on match-fixing, revealed details of the system and said Fifa needs to do more to combat the problem.

Syvasalmi said: “This will be available to all players through FIFPro. A player gets a password and he can push the red button anonymously and the message goes to a place that will investigate it. He does not have to identify himself if he or she does not want to do so.”

Syvasalmi said players would even be able to report suspicions about matches they are watching on television.

Both Interpol and the European agency Europol have ongoing investigations but Syvasalmi said the problem was more widespread than those law enforcement bodies had acknowledged. He said: “That’s the problem with the Interpol statistics – there are four or five times more cases. In the last five years there have been about 1,000 cases, and they can report only 70 a year as they don’t have any system in place. It’s 200 to 300 a year globally. We need to improve the monitoring systems markedly.

“Uefa are monitoring 30,000 matches-plus but Fifa only 1,500. I think what Uefa puts in to that is really professional but absolutely Fifa needs to do more, and not only Fifa most of the sports federations need to do more. It is also a problem in other sports – tennis, cricket, rugby.”