A football (soccer) scandal in Italy is taking its toll. One Italian referee's accreditation to the upcoming World Cup in Germany has been withdrawn, and prosecutors have ordered more than 40 people to face questioning. The Vatican has denounced the scandal as an offense to sport.
With less than a month before the World Cup Championship in Germany, the attention of Italians is focused on a scandal that has engulfed the country's national sport. Radio and television broadcasts and pages and pages of newspapers are devoted to the football scandal.
Prosecutors have opened a massive investigation into allegations of fixing games and illegal betting. The Italian football federation Saturday withdrew the World Cup accreditation of a well-known referee, after he was implicated in the scandal.
Four teams in the top-level Series A are involved so far: Juventus, Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina.
Industrialist Diego Della Valle, whose family owns Fiorentina, said he is absolutely confident that his club is in no way involved in this affair.
Juventus is one of Italy's most celebrated teams. But the entire board of the team resigned last week, and its general manager is under investigation for influencing referees.
More than 40 people have been ordered to face questioning. They are being investigated for criminal association and sporting fraud.
Italy's star goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, was questioned over suspected illegal betting. He says he is innocent and wants to play in the upcoming World Cup Championship.
The former team president of Bologna, Giuseppe Gazzoni Frascara, said the scandal is almost enough to make one ashamed to be Italian. He questioned whether the Italian team should even play in the world championship.
He said it is sad that this is happening just before the World Cup, which begins next month.
The Vatican newspaper, meanwhile, described the football scandal as an offense to sports and to its values.