Italian police launch "Sick Soccer" Serie A tax probe

by Reuters
Tuesday, 25 June 2013 10:47 GMT

S.S. Lazio's players hold the Italian Cup trophy as they celebrate winning the Italian Cup final soccer match against AS Roma at the Olympic stadium in Rome May 26, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

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(Adds details on investigation from court statement, changes slug)

By Amalia, De and Simone

NAPLES, June 25 (Reuters) - Italian finance police seized documents from about 40 soccer clubs on Tuesday as part of an investigation, dubbed "Sick Soccer", into possible tax evasion and money laundering in the buying and selling of players.

Naples prosecutors said that authorities sought documentation from virtually all of Italy's top flight Serie A clubs, including three listed on the stock exchange - Lazio LAZI.MI, AS Roma ASR.MI, and Juventus JUVE.MI - last season's league champions.

Spokesmen for Lazio, Roma and Napoli had no comment, while Juventus officials did not respond to phone calls or email.

The document seizures were part of an investigation into a "criminal conspiracy whose objective was to evade taxes through the systematic issuing of inexistent invoices" in player transfers, the Naples court said in a statement.

The suspicious player transactions "took enormous quantities of cash away from tax authorities", the court said. The probe also includes 12 Italian and foreign player agents, police said.

Italian soccer has been dogged by match fixing allegations in recent years.

Juventus were stripped of two Serie A titles in 2006, and later Italy was the focus of an international match-fixing ring, with Juventus coach Antonio Conte temporarily suspended last year for failing to report infractions.

(Additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei and Massimiliano Di Giorgio in Rome,; writing by Steve Scherer.)

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