Cremona, Italy, Dec 25: Former Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni has reportedly admitted helping to fix Serie B matches involving his team last season. He said he agreed to go along with the scam because his team was not supposed to lose.
Doni was among 16 people arrested across Italy on Monday in an ongoing investigation into match-fixing and illegal betting on games.
After five days of solitary confinement, Doni was permitted to meet with his lawyer Friday and was then questioned by prosecutors.
"Yes, I knew about the fix for Atalanta-Piacenza. I gave my approval and I bet," Doni is quoted as saying by Saturday's Gazzetta dello Sport. "I also tried to do the same thing for the match with Ascoli. But they were all personal initiatives, I'm not part of any organization. ... The club didn't know anything."
Atalanta beat Piacenza 3-0, while the Ascoli vs. Atalanta match finished 1-1. Details have not yet emerged as to precisely what Doni did in the fixed games.
In June, 16 people were arrested as part of the first wave of the inquiry, and Doni was then placed under investigation.
Doni said at the time that he was innocent but in August he was banned from football for 3½ years by the Italian football federation's disciplinary committee, and Atalanta — which was promoted to Serie A for this season — was given a six-point penalty.
"I said yes to the fixes because Atalanta benefited," Doni said, according to the Gazzetta. "I would have never listened to anyone who offered me money to make my squad lose. I made a mistake and now I can't even look at myself in the mirror because it makes me think about all the pain I've caused my family and the fans.
"The relegation to Serie B hurt me and that's why I accepted these offers," Doni added. "By winning we were sure to be promoted."
The latest arrests come five years after another major match-fixing scandal — restricted to club and referee officials but not players — resulted in Juventus getting relegated to Serie B for a season, plus point penalties for Lazio, AC Milan, Fiorentina and Reggina in Serie A.
The prosecutors in Cremona, who are leading the current investigation, have detailed an extensive match-fixing ring stretching as far as Singapore and South America and that has allegedly been in operation for more than 10 years.
Three Serie A matches from last season are also under investigation: Brescia vs. Bari, Brescia vs. Lecce and Napoli vs. Sampdoria.
A phone call was reportedly intercepted between Doni and Ravenna goalkeeping coach Nicola Santoni — who was also arrested — in which the pair discuss tampering with Santoni's iPhone, which had been confiscated by police in June.
Doni was arrested on suspicion of attempting to destroy evidence. He was due to be released from prison Saturday, but will remain under house arrest.
Others arrested Monday include former Inter Milan and Roma player Luigi Sartor, former Serie B player Alessandro Zamperini and active players Carlo Gervasoni of Piacenza and Filippo Carobbio of Spezia.