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By ESPN Staff

Doni hits out at match-fixing claims

Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni believes he is being made a scapegoat for the latest match-fixing scandal in Italian football.

Doni, who helped Atalanta gain promotion to Serie A last month, is among several people under investigation for alleged match-fixing and a betting ring in the country's lower leagues.

Former Italy striker Giuseppe Signori was one of 16 people arrested over the allegations last week.

''They want to make me as the scapegoat in this story,'' said Doni to Italian newspaper La Repubblica. ''I don't accept this. They are making me feel like a monster. They are damaging me.

''My name and that of Atalanta stand out from the rest for the media. It is a bigger story. The other players that have been arrested or are under investigation are either former players or are smaller fish to fry.''

Atalanta and Siena, who also gained promotion to Italy's top flight last month, are among the clubs under the spotlight.

The investigation carried out by police began following a Serie C match between Cremonese and Paganese last November. Cremonese players allegedly had their drinks spiked with drugs so they would not play well, with several players falling ill after the game.

Police said the investigation has produced evidence of an organised system among current and former players, club executives and bookmakers to manipulate results of a number of games in the lower divisions.

''It is a true and proper organisation dedicated to alter results of matches,'' said Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino. ''The scandal has emerged thanks to over 50,000 phone calls intercepted by police of those involved in the organisation. They thought they could speak freely on secured phone lines but they were intercepted too.''

A match-fixing scandal rocked Italian football during and after the 2006 World Cup that led to various clubs being hit with points deductions and Juventus being stripped of two Serie A titles.

Juve were also relegated to the second division after being found guilty of numerous infractions.

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