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By ESPN Staff

Police: Mob tried to buy Lazio

ROME -- Italian police arrested seven people Tuesday in a crackdown on an organized crime group that allegedly tried to buy the Lazio soccer team with laundered money.

Three people were still at large in an investigation that targeted nine Italians and a Hungarian, police said. They tried to acquire the club through money coming from illicit activities of the Casalesi clan, a group of the Naples-based Camorra crime syndicate, police added.

Among those still being sought was former Italy and Cosmos star Giorgio Chinaglia, now living in the United States, police official Gianluca Campana said. Two years ago, authorities first ordered his arrest on charges of extortion and insider trading at Lazio, he added.

Chinaglia, who helped Lazio win its first Italian title in 1974 and later became the club's president, is accused of trying to influence the price of Lazio shares, prosecutors said in 2006.

He allegedly tried to oust current club president Claudio Lotito by falsely claiming there was a Hungarian investment group interested in buying a controlling stake in the club.

Lazio shares are traded on the Milan stock exchange. Tuesday's arrest warrant adds a charge of money laundering to the previous accusations.

The 61-year-old Chinaglia reiterated his innocence in interviews given from the United States to Italian media.

"I don't know these people," he told RAI state TV, referring to others involved in the investigation. "I have no idea about these facts."

Chinaglia played alongside Pele and Franz Beckenbauer for the Cosmos in the defunct North American Soccer League in the 1970s before returning to Italy to lead Lazio as president and later work in the management of other soccer teams.


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