No human could deal with the pressure! Italy coach Prandelli explains under-suspicion Criscito's exclusion from Euros squad
11:37 GMT, 29 May 2012
Italy have excluded defender Domenico Criscito from their Euro 2012 squad to let him clear his name after police investigations into an alleged match-fixing scandal.
The player, who prosecutors allege was photographed in a restaurant with match-fixing suspects while still a Genoa player in 2011, told reporters: 'I have nothing to do with this. I was only out for dinner with some Genoa fans.'
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Pressure: Cesare Prandelli (left) excluded Domenico Criscito (right) because the investigation and the Euros would have been too much to handle
Investigated: Domenico Criscito (right) at Italy training
ITALY SQUAD FOR EURO 2012
Goalkeepers: Buffon (Juventus), De Sanctis (Napoli), Sirigu (Paris St Germain)
Defenders: Abate (AC Milan), Balzaretti (Palermo), Barzagli (Juventus), Bonucci (Juventus), Chiellini (Juventus), Maggio (Napoli), Ogbonna (Torino)
Midfielders: De Rossi (Roma), Diamanti (Bologna), Giaccherini (Juventus), Marchisio (Juventus), Montolivo (Fiorentina), Motta (Paris St Germain), Nocerino (AC Milan), Pirlo (Juventus)
Strikers: Balotelli (Manchester City), Borini (Roma), Cassano (Milan), Di Natale (Udinese), Giovinco (Parma)
Coach Cesare Prandelli was in the process of whittling his 32-man squad down to 25 when police arrived.
'I am not taking Criscito because he would have been under pressure which no human being can bear,' Prandelli said.
'The other reason is that he could have been summoned by the prosecutor at any moment, before a match.'
Prandelli also cut Emiliano Viviano, Marco Verratti, Davide Astori, Salvatore Bocchetti, Luca Cigarini and Ezequiel Schelotto from his Euro squad with two more names to follow before UEFA’s Tuesday midday deadline.
Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci has also been linked to match-fixing in testimony from a probe in Bari, where he used to play, but is not under formal investigation and will go to the tournament in Ukraine and Poland.
'I have talked with Bonucci, he has already been heard by prosecutors in Bari. He is calm and so are we,' Prandelli added.
No looking: Stefano Mauri hides his face from photographers
'At the moment he has not received any communication. If Bonucci is OK, he will be in the list of 23 for the Euros.'
Lazio captain Stefano Mauri and former Genoa midfielder Omar Milanetto were among 14 people arrested by police. Juventus coach Antonio Conte was also questioned.'
A police statement said they searched 30 homes of players, trainers and administrators of clubs in Serie A, Serie B and Lega Pro, on suspicion of involvement in match-fixing.
Police in the northern city of Cremona said they were investigating Conte, fresh from his triumph in leading Juventus to the Italian Serie A championship for the first time since the club was relegated in 2006 in an earlier match-fixing scandal.
'Conte's reaction is that of someone who's completely innocent and strongly determined to prove his total innocence,' Conte's lawyer, Antonio De Rencis, said.
Making their move: An Italian police car arrives at the Coverciano site center where the Italy national team are training
Siena president Massimo Mezzaroma has also been placed under investigation.
Zenit St. Petersburg defender Criscito is also being investigated, a week before the national team leaves for the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.
Two police cars arrived at the national team's training site at around 6:25am local time (0425 GMT) and left more than two hours later. Criscito's house in Genoa was also searched.
Criscito, who did not take part in Italy's training session, has reportedly asked to be heard by the authorities as soon as possible.
Into custody: Mauri has been arrested
Action has been taken against 19 people, 11 of whom are footballers or former footballers – 14 have been arrested, three have been placed under house arrest and two others are to present themselves to authorities.
'It's devastating news,' former Italy and current Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni told Gazzetta dello Sport. 'If the magistrates are doing something, it is because there is some truth in this.
'I, who have travelled abroad for some time, must say that we give an ugly image of our football.
'As an Italian, the first feeling is that we are mocked abroad, we are always linked to illicit dealings and are considered mafia members.
'This only damages us because I can claim to have paid the price for an attitude that affects everyone.'
He added: 'It's clear that certain stories provoke anger. But it could also give a push (to the team) to prove the clean face of football.'
Monday's operation was part of 'Last Bet', a wider investigation into match-fixing in Italian soccer which has already seen a number of arrests of current and former Italian players.
'In this part of the investigation, indications have emerged of manipulation in matches from the 2010-11 Serie A championship, including games between Lazio and Genoa and Lecce and Lazio,' Raffale Grassi, director of SCO, the police service responsible for the investigation told SkyTG24 television.
Crackdown: Cremona prosecutor Roberto di Martino listens to Cremona police commissioner Antonio Bufano as they attend a news conference about a police operation which was part of 'Last Bet' an investigation into match-fixing in Italian football
Five people have also been arrested in Hungary on suspicion of being part of an illegal international betting ring.
Mauri has been accused of sporting fraud. Most of the footballers accused now play in Serie B or lower leagues, although Omar Milanetto spent five years at Genoa before joining Padova in 2011.
Numerous others have had their houses searched, including Chievo Verona's Sergio Pellissier.
More than 50 people have now been arrested in Italy in the past year as part of the probe started by judicial authorities in Cremona.
Former Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni was banned from football for three and a half years last summer, and former Lazio captain Giuseppe Signori was also arrested.
Serie A clubs Atalanta, Novara and Siena were among the 22 Italian teams notified at the beginning of this month that they are being investigated by sports authorities.
Prosecutors in Cremona have detailed an extensive match-fixing ring stretching as far as Singapore and South America that was allegedly in operation for more than 10 years.
Italian Olympic Committee vice-president Luca Pancalli was equally saddened by the latest football scandal to rock the nation.
Police action: Juventus' coach Antonio Conte is under investigation
'The courage to speak must be there in order to put an end to this issue and to start again,' he said to Gazzetta.
'As a man of sport and as a citizen I feel infinite sadness. The sporting justice has other time limits with respect to the ordinary justice and it's clear that there will be (sporting) repercussions.'
Criscito's agent Andrea D'Amico insists his client is not concerned.
He said to Gazzetta dello Sport: 'I have spoken to Mimmo (Domenico) this morning and he is absolutely calm.
'Mimmo is ready to explain anything that may have caused him to be under the spotlight.
'Our legal team is working in order for the magistrates to listen to him as soon as possible.'
Italian Football Federation (FIGC) vice-president Demetrio Albertini announced the former Genoa player will not go to Poland and Ukraine before Prandelli.
'Criscito will not be with us at the European Championship,' Albertini said in a press conference.
'He is in a hurry to end this current situation and that is his aim.
'He is disappointed to have caused this situation although he reiterates he has nothing to do with it.
Albertini added: 'We are disappointed but we have to remain close to the player.
'The decision not to include Criscito is a collective decision. The Federation has given Prandelli its support over this decision.
Under suspicion: Stefano Mauri (right) in action for Lazio
'Arrests have been made today but until proven otherwise, we are talking about innocent people even though they are considered suspects.
'I know Domenico and he is incredulous. He is an extraordinary guy and he has already seen his lawyers this morning.
Inter Milan defender Andrea Ranocchia and Siena striker Mattia Destro were also left out by Prandelli as he trimmed his squad to 23 names.
Veteran Udinese forward Antonio Di Natale, 34, survived the cull.
Di Natale, the top Italian scorer in Serie A in the recently-completed season, has not played under Prandelli and is one of five strikers that Italy will take to the tournament to be played in Poland and Ukraine.
AC Milan striker Antonio Cassano has also made Prandelli's roster after coming back from minor heart surgery. Cassano was Italy's top scorer in qualifying with six goals.
Recently-crowned Barclays Premier League winner Mario Balotelli of Manchester City is in the group.
The Azzurri meet Luxembourg in a friendly in Parma tonight and then take on Russia in Zurich on Friday.
At Euro 2012, Italy open against defending European and world champions Spain on June 10 and will also face Croatia and Republic of Ireland in Group C.
Video: Italian police release video of arrests in match-fixing scandal