Mauri relaxed over match-fixing probe
Lazio captain Stefano Mauri cut a relaxed figure at his club's pre-season training camp in Auronzo di Cadore despite an ongoing investigation into match fixing which has the potential to end his career.
The 33-year-old is one of eight individuals facing a sports trial for his involvement in the Lazio v Genoa and Lecce v Lazio games in 2011, which are both under suspicion of being fixed. The midfielder is accused of being aware of an attempt to pre-determine the result without reporting the matter to the authorities, an infringement which could carry a suspension of up to five years.
Should he be proven guilty and the punishment be delivered in full, it would effectively sanction the end of Mauri's playing career, but he showed no signs of concern as he met the media in Veneto.
"I know what actually happened," he said. "I'm innocent and I've never broken the rules in this sport. We'll just have to see how the process goes, but I'm certain I'll be proven right in the end."
Mauri can continue to enjoy the unreserved support of the Biancoceleste fans, who once again displayed their affection with banners criticising the state prosecutor, Stefano Palazzi, and urging Mauri not to give up. He also has the backing of Lazio president Claudio Lotito. "I'm not jumping for joy about this process, but in any case, I think the player will demonstrate his innocence," Lotito said.
Which all allows the attention to return to football and the 2013-14 season, when Lazio aim to be even more competitive both at home and abroad after winning the Coppa Italia, reaching the last eight of the UEFA Europa League and finishing in seventh place in Serie A last term.
"There's a group of strong sides behind Juventus - Inter, Fiorentina, AC Milan and us," said Mauri. "All I can say to the fans is to follow us and get a season ticket - this could be the year for us to finish inside the top three."