Catania president 'paid £71,000 to fix five matches'

Sicilian side Catania were promoted from Serie B in 2005-06
Sicilian side Catania were promoted from Serie B in 2005-06

Catania president Antonino Pulvirenti paid £71,000 (100,000 euros) to fix matches and keep his club in Italy's Serie B, prosecutors have alleged.

Pulvirenti, 53, was one of seven arrested by Catania police on 23 June, accused of committing "fraud in sporting competition".

Prosecutor Giovanni Salvi said during interrogation Pulvirenti admitted he paid to fix five matches last season.

Following his arrest, his lawyer said Pulvirenti would prove his innocence.

A statement on Catania's websiteexternal-link on Monday said Pulvirenti had "contacts with other parties" to try to save the club from relegation, but with no "real effect on the outcome".

Catania finished 15th in Serie B in the 2014-15 campaign, two points above the relegation play-off places.

The club's survival was helped by a run of five wins between 29 March and 24 April and investigators allege at least four of those wins were fixed, along with a draw on 2 May.

Matches alleged to have been fixed
2 April: W 3-0 v Varese (a)
11 April: W 4-1 Trapani (h)
19 April: W 2-1 Latina (a)
24 April: W 2-0 Ternana (h)
2 May: D 1-1 Livorno (h)

Pulvirenti, his deputy Pablo Cosentino and former director of sport Daniele Delli Carri were put under house arrest.

Cosentino, chief executive of the club, told investigators he knew nothing of the payments stating that illegal payments would represent "the opposite of what I've always done for Catania".

In total, 19 people are under investigation, including players and agents as well as employees from the online gambling sector.

A month ago, 50 people were detained on accusations of fixing dozens of matches in the country's third division and its top semi-professional league.

In 2006, Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina were demoted to the second division for their involvement in match-fixing. Juve were also stripped of the league titles they won in 2005 and 2006 and docked 30 points.