Italian PM suggests ban on soccer

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Baku, May 30 (AZERTAC). ITALIAN Prime Minister Mario Monti has suggested soccer should be suspended for two to three years after the latest match-fixing scandal.

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“I`m not making a proposal and even less so a governmental one but it is something that sometimes I wish for as someone who has loved football for many years,” he said during a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk yesterday.

“Maybe it would benefit the development of our citizens to have a total suspension of this game for two or three years.

“It`s particularly sad when a world, such as sport, that should express high values is guilty of the most reprehensible ones such as treachery, illegality and deceit.”

Italy`s team travels to Poland in less than a week to take part in the European championships but their preparations were thrown into turmoil after police on Monday made a series of dawn raids as part of a match-fixing investigation.

Investigators even searched the room of national team defender Domenico Criscito at the team hotel near Florence while elsewhere around the country, 19 people, including Lazio captain Stefano Mauri, were arrested.

Criscito, later left out of Coach Cesare Prandelli`s squad, said he had done nothing wrong. Mauri and Lazio also denied any impropriety.

Italian soccer federation president Giancarlo Abete said Monti`s suggestion would not solve the problem.

“I understand and share the bitterness of Prime Minister Monti. But to stop the championship would mean humiliating all of football, penalising the majority who work honestly and it would also mean the loss of thousands of jobs,” Giancarlo Abete said in a statement.

Maurizio Zamparini, president of Serie A club Palermo, was less diplomatic, saying Monti was “talking rubbish.”

“Before saying we need to stop playing football he should think about his own problems and everything he is destroying and closing down with his laws,” Zamparini said.

“Monti is showing his ignorance because professional football clubs pay 800 million euros ($1 billion) to the state every year.”

The corruption allegations are the latest to hit Italian soccer and the third time in just over 30 years that the sport has been dragged through the mud.

Then in 2006 Juventus suffered the same fate and were also stripped of their 2005 and 2006 Serie A crowns for trying to influence the referees` commission.

This time the “Calcioscommesse” or soccer-betting scandal has mostly affected teams and players outside the first division.

But Atalanta was deducted six points before the season began for their role while Siena and their president Massimo Mezzaroma have also been accused of involvement.


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