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May 27, 2006

Italian FA promises serious match-fixing investigation

FLORENCE, Italy, May 27 (Reuters) - The head of Italy's Football Federation has promised a serious investigation into allegations of match-fixing in Serie A.

'I exclude the possibility that it will all be brushed under the carpet,' Guido Rossi, the Federation's emergency administrator, told the daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

'We have to go deep into this, very deep. There isn't just the surface that needs looking at. There is hardly anything that works as it should do.'

Rossi, 75, who was appointed after the outbreak of the scandal, said the question of which teams would be in Serie A next season was a matter for the Federation's disciplinary commission alone.

'Who stays in and who goes out will be decided by the disciplinary procedure which will not be impeded by anything or anyone,' said Rossi.

The publication of telephone intercepts, many featuring former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi discussing refereeing appointments, has led to a series of investigations into the game.

Naples magistrates have placed 41 people under investigation including club officials from Juventus, AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina, referees and Federation functionaries.

Another investigation in Rome is looking into the operation of sports management agency GEA World which is run by Moggi's son Alessandro. Both Luciano and Alessandro Moggi are under investigation along with Davide Lippi, son of Italy's World Cup coach Marcello.

The first investigation to deliver a verdict will be that of the Federation's disciplinary commission which has to decide whether the league table from last season's Serie A, won by Juventus, should be altered to reflect any wrongdoing.

If Juventus officials, or those of any other club, are found to have tried to influence the outcome of games their clubs could be demoted to the second division Serie B.

Rossi said given the huge interest in soccer in Italy it was vital that justice be done.

'I want to be very clear with everyone that this affair has enormous importance for the country because it relates directly to 40 million people who follow football,' he said comparing the scandal with previous investigations in the business world.

'When corruption related to the elite, such as banks and finance, the truth is that after 10 days there were only the specialist press talking about it. Football however is talked about by everyone,' said Rossi.