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Dec 17, 2013

Gattuso 'angered' by match-fixing probe

Gennaro Gattuso said he is "angered and offended" to have been drawn into a match-fixing inquiry on Tuesday.

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The former Rangers and AC Milan midfielder, and 2006 World Cup winner with Italy, had his home searched by investigators overnight as part of an ongoing investigation into match-fixing.

However, the 35-year-old has pleaded his innocence as well as his disappointment at being linked with the inquiry.

"I'm angered and offended," Gattuso told Mediaset television. "I'm serene and will explain everything. I don't want any stains on my career. I've never bet in my life."

Later he was quoted in La Repubblica Sport as telling Sky Sport Italia: "Never have I ever had the slightest thought about possibly fixing a game.

"If something was proven I would be willing to go out into the street and, I know this is a strong thing to say, I would kill myself. Anyone who knows me knows that I can't stand to lose even a practice game, not even a game of cards with my friends.

"I want to clear everything up so I don't have a stain on my career. I have never gambled in my life."

Gattuso's agent Andrea D'Amico told Press Association Sport: "Gennaro is stunned by the news. I spoke to him and he is returning home [to Milan]. We are remaining calm and we have to be patient and see how the investigation develops.

"However, just because he is under investigation does not mean anything, for all we know this could be just false allegations. Sometimes when you are a famous player, it is very easy for your name to appear and to be a target. We will wait and see how the situation develops."

Four arrests were made overnight with a so-called 'Mister Y,' Francesco Bazzani, incriminated. He is suspected of having acted as a mediator between footballers and betting syndicates, and according to an investigation being conducted by the Cremona prosecutors, an exchange of text messages took place between him and Gattuso on the morning of the match between Chievo and AC Milan on Feb. 20, 2011.

Former Milan and Lazio midfielder Cristian Brocchi was also reported to have exchanged "a series of text messages" with Bazzani on the morning of the Milan-Lazio Serie A fixture on Feb. 1, 2011, another match currently under investigation. However, like Gattuso, he denies any wrongdoing.

"I've known him for about a decade, like I know hundreds of other people to whom I've given shirts and tickets," he told Rai Sport 1. "He's a friend of a friend who's no longer with us. That's how it all started, from the fact that when he had problems, he would ask me for a ticket to see the match, but I don't see anything bad in that. I've given away hundreds of tickets and shirts.

"I took my two computers to the investigators immediately since I was not at home when they came to search. I've got nothing to hide. I took them there without any fear, without any shame in showing my life."

Bazzani was one of four individuals arrested overnight on Monday as part of an ongoing investigation into match-fixing in Italian football which commenced in the summer of 2011.

Many more games and people, including current and former players, are being looked into by Roberto Di Martino, head of the investigation, which is now into its third phase.

"There are 30 games in Serie A for which [Francesco Bazzani] and footballers or management related to the teams playing the following day or two days after were in contact," Martino explained on Tuesday. "I'm not a pundit and I'm not going to pontificate, but certainly we are faced with a clear fact, which is that in spite of the arrests and the investigations, most of these people are continuing to do what they were doing before.

"Clearly there has not been a big reaction in Italy when you consider that things have continued just like before. We have made four arrests and carried out 16 searches with mobile police squads in Bologna, Milan, Rome, Messina, Varese, La Spezia, Ancona, Verona, Siena, Rimini, Genoa, and of course Cremona involved.

"Some of these searches produced positive results; they were successful. We've found notes and books detailing bets."

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