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By ESPN Staff

Atalanta handed seven-point deduction

Atalanta are set to begin the new Serie A campaign with a seven-point deduction for their part in the latest match-fixing scandal to rock Italian football.

The newly-promoted side were one of 18 teams implicated in the calcioscommesse betting scandal and received notice of their punishment at a hearing before the Italian Football Federation's (FIGC) sporting prosecutor in Rome on Wednesday.

Last season's Serie B clash between Atalanta and Piacenza came under scrutiny following reports of irregular betting patterns.

Atalanta's veteran captain Cristiano Doni, 38, has been hit with a three-and-a-half-year ban for his actions, while team-mate Thomas Manfredini received a three-year ban.

The punishments are the recommendation of federal prosecutor Stefano Palazzi, using information from an investigation undertaken by the public prosecutor of Cremona.

All of Wednesday's recommendations - outside of any plea bargains - still need to be ratified by the FIGC's disciplinary commission.

Another Serie A outfit, Chievo, opted to enter a plea bargain and were fined 80,000 euros. Their fine relates to the actions of Stefano Bettarini, a former Italy international who was registered with the team last season but who never made an appearance.

Bettarini, charged with trying to influence the outcome of matches, entered a plea bargain and has been banned for 14 months.

Ascoli defender Vittorio Micolucci also made a deal with the prosecutors and received a 14-month ban for his links to the scandal.

Micolucci's club have been handed a six-point deduction for the 2011-12 season and handed a 90,000 euro fine. Fellow Serie B sides Hellas Verona and Sassuolo were handed 50,000 euro fines.

Representatives of 11 third-tier Pro League teams - Alexandria, Cremonese, Benevento, Ravenna, Virtus Entella, Piacenza, Esperia Viareggio, Portogruaro, Taranto, Spezia and Reggiana - and two amateur sides - Cus Chieti and Pino Di Matteo - were also at the hearing.

Of the more serious sanctions handed down to those teams, Alexandria face relegation from the third tier and Ravenna have been told they face total expulsion from the league if the commission upholds Palazzi's ruling.

Benevento were hit with a 14-point penalty and Cremonese a nine-point deduction. Both teams also received 30,000 euro fines

The calcioscommesse scandal takes in 18 suspicious matches, including one Serie A encounter between Inter Milan and Lecce, and has led to the Italian police making a total of 16 arrests, among them former Italy international Giuseppe Signori, since the investigation began in November.

Signori, 43, was among those arrested on June 1 amid claims by prosecutors that the 16 had been involved in manipulating results of matches in Serie B and lower leagues. He was today banned from football activities for five years.

Signori, Doni, Manfredini, Bettarini and Micolucci were among 26 individuals at the hearing, all of whom face bans of up to five years.

Italian football was last gripped by match-fixing allegations in 2006, when the Calciopoli affair saw Juventus stripped of two Scudettos and relegated to Serie B after being found guilty of trying to influence referee selection.



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