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Calciopoli II Threatens Serie A As Juve Coach Under Investigation For Match Fixing

Italy’s preparation for Euro 2012 have been thrown into disarray after a police raid this morning at their team camp. The raid was part of “Last Bet”, an investigation into match-fixing in Italian soccer.

As a result of the raid, Italian defender Domenico Criscito has withdrawn from the country’s Euro 2012 squad.

Criscito, currently plays for Zenit St Petersburg in Russia but has played for Juventus and Genoa in the past and Italian federation vice-president Demetrio Albertini has now confirmed that the defender will not travel to the finals in Poland and Ukraine as he wants to “clear his position with prosecutors”.

“It has been a decision agreed between (coach Cesare) Prandelli and the federation,” Albertini told reporters.

“He (Criscito) was also sorry for the repercussions on the national team and on the dressing room. He explained some things to me and I believe his version and in his innocence.”

In addition Italian police announced that they have placed Juventus manager Antonio Conte under investigation and arrested the captain of Lazio Stefano Mauri and former Genoa midfielder Omar Milanetto.

Conte, who led Juventus to the Serie A title for the first time since the club were stripped of the 2005 and 2006 titles in Calciopoli I, is being investigated on suspicion of sporting fraud in a match between his previous club Siena and Novara in April 2011.

Monday’s raids by around 280 police in 23 cities cast a further shadow over Italian soccer which has still not fully recovered from the 2006 “Calciopoli” match-fixing scandal which saw Juve stripped of the title and dumped into the second division. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing involving Juventus this time around.

Police also arrested Mauri and former Genoa midfielder Omar Milanetto, now with Serie B side Padova. All the arrests were in connection with fixtures last season between Lecce and Lazio, and Lazio and Genoa.

Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino said there was an “absolute superabundance” of evidence about the Lecce-Lazio match. He added gamblers appeared to win around two million euros ($2.50 million) on the game and paid 600,000 euros to bribe the players.

Conte’s involvement in the investigation, following mounting media speculation he would be dragged in, was a big blow to Juve after a spectacular season when the team were unbeaten until they lost the Italian Cup final to Napoli on May 20.

The coach’s lawyer Antonio De Rencis denied Conte, whose contract was renewed last week until 2015, was involved in match-fixing.

“Conte’s reaction is one of someone who is completely outside this and determined to prove he has nothing to do with what has been alleged,” the lawyer told Gazzetta dello Sport.