Officials in Italy say former AC Milan and Italian national team midfielder Gennaro Gattuso is the focus of an ongoing match-fixing probe.
The operation allegedly involved more than 30 Serie A matches stretching back to 2009, justice officials told Reuters on Tuesday. Four individuals have already been arrested in connection with the case.
The agent for Gattuso, a member of Italy’s World Cup-winning 2006 squad, said that word of the investigation came “like a bolt from the blue.”
“[Gattuso] was out and now he has come back home,” agent Andrea D’Amico told Italian television. “We need to wait to understand more.
“His lawyers are in contact with the prosecutor.”
In addition to his World Cup heroics, Gattuso was part of two Champions League winners in Milan. He was most recently known as manager of Palermo in Serie B, but was fired in September.
Another player under investigation is Cristian Brocchi, formerly of Lazio, AC Milan, and Inter Milan.
“It was a big surprise. We’re all quite shocked,” said Davide Lippi, Brocchi’s agent, on SkyTG24 television. “I’ve known Cristian for years and I think he’s got nothing to do with any of this. Cristian is calm about it.”
According to Cremona chief prosecutor Roberto Di Martino, investigators have identified phone calls and text messages between those behind the plot, players, and team personnel.
A three-year investigation led to the most recent arrests. That investigation has produced evidence of an organized network of players, betting operators, and others with an intent to influence outcomes.
Prosecutors say bets of more than a hundred thousand euros were placed on some Serie A and Serie B matches.
It was a 2010 Serie B match in Cremona that originally aroused suspicions, leading to the probe. 16 players have already been suspended for between one and five years as part of the scandal.