Prodi promises to clean up Italian soccer

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Italy's new premier said it will take an "ethical earthquake'' to clean up Italian soccer amid allegations of fraud, match-fixing and illegal betting.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:40 IST
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Italy's new premier said on Thursday it will take an "ethical earthquake'' to clean up national soccer amid allegations of fraud, match-fixing and illegal betting. Romano Prodi spoke hours after Italy's financial police searched the headquarters of Juventus, the storied club at the centre of investigations. The soccer scandal "demonstrates that the line has been abundantly crossed and an ethical earthquake is needed,'' Prodi told the Senate in his first parliamentary address. Houses searched The homes of former general manager Luciano Moggi and players Fabio Cannavaro and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were also searched. According to reports, prosecutors said the players were not under investigation. An apartment in Naples owned by Moggi's son, Alessandro Moggi, was also searched. Alessandro Moggi runs GEA World, a player agency that is also being probed. The searches came two days after former Italian senator Guido Rossi was appointed as extraordinary commissioner of the Italian soccer federation (FIGC). Prosecutors are investigating four Serie A clubs, Juventus, Lazio, AC Milan and Fiorentina - in a match-fixing probe. Moggi resigns Luciano Moggi resigned on Sunday over allegations that he influenced the appointment of match officials for Juventus games. The Italian referees association on Thursday temporarily suspended nine referees. The two officials who assigned referees last season, Paolo Bergamo and Pierluigi Pairetto and several linesmen, all of who are under investigation for match fixing. ANSA news agency reported on Thursday that Luciano Moggi and ex-chief executive Antonio Giraudo were also being investigated for fraud and false bookkeeping. Illegal betting probe A separate probe into illegal betting has involved Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who has denied wrongdoing. More than 40 people have been ordered by Naples prosecutors to appear for questioning for suspected criminal association. Juventus won its second straight Serie A title on Sunday, but the club might be stripped of the title as well as last year's championship if found guilty of fraud. The other clubs could have their trophies taken away and relegated to lower divisions. (AP)