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Italy coach mulls team's absence

ROME -- Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said it wouldn't bother him if his team withdraws from the European Championship while Italian soccer is engulfed in a huge match-fixing scandal.

The investigation into corruption led to 19 arrests this week, with Zenit St. Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito dropped from Prandelli's squad after being questioned at the national team's training headquarters.

Financial police also examined the banking records of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon on suspicion he made large bets, but news reports say he has been cleared of wrongdoing.

Prandelli spoke to RaiSport in Zurich, where Italy will play Russia in an exhibition match, its last warm-up before leaving for Poland.

"If you told us that for the good of football we should not participate, it wouldn't be a problem for me," he said.

Apart from those arrested on Monday, three people have been placed under house arrest and two others have to present themselves to authorities. Five of the arrests were made in Hungary.

Numerous others have had their houses searched, including Chievo Verona striker Sergio Pellissier, Conte and Criscito.

The investigation was started by judicial authorities in Cremona last year. It has resulted in former Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni being banned from soccer for 3½ years, and the arrest of former Lazio captain Giuseppe Signori.

Prosecutors in Cremona have detailed an extensive match-fixing ring stretching as far as Singapore and South America that was allegedly in operation for more than 10 years.

Italy has only recently recovered from the 2006 match-fixing scandal -- known as Calciopoli -- that resulted in Juventus being relegated to Serie B for a season, plus points penalties for several other Serie A teams and long bans for club and refereeing officials.

Italy went on to win the World Cup that year.

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