By Chris Wright
Yesterday, 27-year old Bari centre-half Andrea Masiello confessed to receiving upwards of €50,000 (£41, 600) for scoring an own-goal and ensuring that his side lost against local rivals Lecce in the Serie A last season.
Masiello has been detained in Bari prison after his arrest, while eight other Bari players are now under investigation for similar offences. The Italian authorities are now running the rule over Bari’s final games of last season – with the suspicion being that matches may have been thrown and consequently directly influenced which sides were relegated/qualified for Europe, etc.
Judge Giovanni Abbattista wrote that the nine Bari players under investigation were “more or less ‘on the market’, and not in the footballing sense of the term,” adding that they were “treated as idols by fans, though they were no more than mercenaries.”
Magistrates have also suggested management at Bari and Lecce were privy to the jiggery-pokery, while investigators suspect that a notorious Balkan gambling ring known as ‘The Gypsies’ may have been responsible – though The Gypsies have blamed the local Mafia. There are also whispers that Bari players were leant on by the club’s Ultras to aid in their betting scams.
As for Masiello, reports are emerging from Italy that he has been placed under lock and key in the hospital wing of Bari prison for fear of violent attacks from other inmates – given that the majority of those incarcerated are Bari supporters.
All of a sudden that £41,600 doesn’t seem quite so sweet.