Rome, June 2
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli says it wouldn’t bother him if his team withdraws from the European Championship while Italian football is engulfed in a huge match-fixing scandal.
The investigation led to 14 arrests this week, and notably Zenit St. Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito was dropped from Prandelli’s squad after being questioned at the national team’s training headquarters.
Italian Premier Mario Monti went so far on Tuesday to suggest that Italian football should be suspended for two to three years.
"If you told us that for the good of football the national team should not go to the Euros, it wouldn’t be a problem for me," Prandelli said on Friday in an interview with RaiSport in Zurich. "There are things which I consider more important.
"I don’t like crusades, I prefer to face up to things and not to take a stance without thinking of consequences. I want to talk only about football but what’s happening means we can’t. As regards to the footballers, we’ll continue to say that those involved won’t leave for the Euros."
Prandelli and Italy were in Zurich to play Russia on Friday in its last warm-up game before leaving for Poland.
"UEFA is not considering any action against the Italian national football team," European football’s governing body said in a statement to The Associated Press.
With little over a week before Italy’s opening match against world and European champions Spain, Italian Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri said there would be no call for the Azzurri to drop out.
"No, no, it is an important international event," Cancellieri said. "Play, play well and come on Italy."
Financial police have examined the banking records of Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon on suspicion he made large bets but news reports say he has been cleared of wrongdoing.
"How is Buffon? You’ll have to ask him," Prandelli said. "He is very strong, with a great personality. He manages to hide uncomfortable moments, but despite this, even a person like him can suffer in a difficult moment like this. Even the strongest people can be so sensitive."
Antonio Conte, who coached Juventus to the Serie A title this season, was also officially notified that he was under investigation for alleged wrongdoing while in charge of Siena in 2010-2011.
Apart from those arrested on Monday, three people have been placed under house arrest and two others have to present themselves to authorities. Five of the arrests were made in Hungary.
Numerous others have had their houses searched, including Chievo Verona striker Sergio Pellissier, Conte and Criscito.
The investigation was started by judicial authorities in Cremona last year. It has resulted in former Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni being banned from football for 5 1/2 years, and the arrest of former Lazio captain Giuseppe Signori.
Prosecutors in Cremona have detailed an extensive match-fixing ring stretching as far as Singapore and South America that was allegedly in operation for more than 10 years.
Italy has only recently recovered from the 2006 match-fixing scandal — known as Calciopoli — that resulted in Juventus being relegated to Serie B for a season, plus points penalties for several other Serie A teams and long bans for club and refereeing officials.
Italy reacted in the best possible way by winning the World Cup