The three prominent figures in the Italian game were among 44 people and 13 clubs charged in the ongoing Italian max-fixing scandal known as “Scommessopoli,” Football Italia reports.
“The FIGC prosecutor announced the charges for the first phase of the trial into alleged match-fixing after a summer of interrogations,” the reports said. “Between Serie A, B and Lega Pro there are 44 individuals charged with various accusations ranging from sporting fraud to failing to report an attempt at sporting fraud.”
“These include five Serie A clubs, although only Lecce and Grosseto are accused of direct responsibility for the incidents. All the other clubs face the charge of indirect responsibility –- this means they knew nothing about the wrongdoing, but are punished because individuals within the club or squad did.”
The scandal is believed to involve an international crime syndicate, which paid players to fix the results of games in at least the top three divisions of Italian soccer. Former Bari player Andrea Masiello was arrested in April for his direct involvement in the scandal, but that was only the tip of the iceberg.
Bonucci, a standout defender for Italy and Serie A champion Juventus, faces the most serious charge of sporting fraud. The accusation stems from his time at AS Bari, when he is thought to have been involved in fixing Serie A games during the 2009-10 season. The 25-year-old center back played a key role for Italy in its run to the final of the 2012 UEFA European Championship, but he could be fined and banned for three years if found guilty.
Di Vaio recently left Italian soccer for the Montreal Impact of Major League Soccer. The 36-year-old former Italian international is charged with failing to report an attempted sporting fraud. He was a star forward for FC Bologna during the infamous 2009-10 campaign, and Italian outlets report that those found guilty of the lesser charge could face a fine and six-month ban (but the sanctions may not be enforcable in MLS).
Conte is the highest-profile figure who was charged. The Juventus manager led the storied club to its first scudetto since it was demoted to the second division in 2006. It is believed the 42-year-old knew about attempts to fix two games (in May 2011) during his time as AC Siena manager, but did not report it to the authorities.
Hearings for Conte and Bonucci will be held on Aug. 1 and 3 respectively. It is unknown when di Vaio will face judges. Unfortunately, “Scommessopoli” and “Calcioscommesse” have already made their way into the lexicons of soccer fans around the world and Italian soccer, which was already facing hard times, is much worse off for it.
Thumbnail photo via Flickr/pietro0487