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By ESPN Staff

Italian police issue Lazio arrest warrants

ROME, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Italian police said on Friday they had issued nine arrest warrants for suspected market rigging and extortion related to shares in Lazio.

Judicial sources said one of the arrest warrants was for Giorgio Chinaglia, a former Italy striker and ex-Lazio chairman who was also a star player for the New York Cosmos in the 1970s.

The police said in a statement they had investigated a 34 percent jump in the value of Lazio shares earlier this year after rumours that a foreign company was bidding for the club.

No one at Lazio was immediately available to comment and Chinaglia could not be reached. Police said the 59-year-old, who led Lazio to their first-ever Serie A title in 1974, was residing in the United States.

Rome prosecutors in March launched an investigation into Chinaglia, who they suspected of claiming to represent a Hungarian drugs company that wanted to buy a controlling stake in the club, one of the judicial sources said.

At the end of March, Hungary's Richter Gedeon Rt denied it was interested in buying into the club.

'The warrants regard communications, which lacked any basis in fact, which were circulated in the early months of this year by a few individuals about how a foreign group was interested in buying a controlling stake in the club,' the police statement said.

Five of the arrest warrants were for market rigging and the other four were for fans who police believe tried to intimidate Lazio Chairman Claudio Lotito into selling the club.

Lazio was one of five Serie A clubs prosecuted by a sporting tribunal in the summer in a match-rigging scandal.