Seven arrested in Italy for fixing Catania matches

ROME (Reuters) - Catania football club president Antonino Pulvirenti and six others were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of fixing matches this year to keep the club from being relegated from Serie B, Italy's second division, investigators said. Those arrested including Pulvirenti, who also owns dozens of supermarkets and an airline, are accused of sporting fraud and match-fixing, Catania police said in a statement. Pulvirenti, through his lawyer Giovanni Grasso, said he was "certain that he can prove he was not involved", according to Corriere della Sera Web site. Twelve others, including five players and the owner of a rival club in Messina, are under investigation for manipulating at least five games played in 2015, police and prosecutors told reporters. The typical payoff to rival players to throw a match was 10,000 euros ($11,226), police official Antonella Paglialunga said. Police used wiretaps and video surveillance in the investigation, she said. The latest Italian match-fixing scandal follows just a month after some 50 people, including a suspected Calabrian mobster, were detained on accusations of fixing dozens of matches in the country's third division and its top semi-pro league. In that case, investigators suspect 28 Lega Pro and Serie D matches from the 2014-15 season were rigged. Catania, relegated from Serie A the previous season, finished 15th in Serie B in 2014-15, just three points above the relegation playoff places. The Sicilian side were previously promoted from Serie B in 2005-06. (Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)