Cristiano Doni admits he thought he’d “get away with it” in the betting scandal, but now urges other players to tell the authorities everything.
The former Atalanta captain was given a lengthy ban and eventually arrested as the investigation over match-fixing and betting syndicates spread. He had maintained his innocence, but finally confessed when in prison.
“The most difficult thing was explaining to my daughter what was happening,” the midfielder told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Some results were agreed. I am ready to explain. Seven days before Atalanta-Piacenza, I was told that we would’ve won against Ascoli thanks to a deal. However, on the field I realised the others were playing for real.
“I was told the same about Piacenza, but this time while playing I noticed the ‘fix’ was true. Piacenza goalkeeper Mario Cassano told me where to hit the penalty.”
Doni had originally been supported by the Atalanta fans even after they were docked six points, but when he confessed that the accusations were true, the ultras declared he was persona non grata.
“When I was in jail, I asked myself many times why I had done this. I felt responsible for Atalanta’s relegation and would’ve done anything to get back into Serie A. I said yes when told Piacenza were coming here to lose.
“However, I never ‘threw’ a game. We must differentiate between those who throw games for money and those who accept ‘help’ for the love of their team. Or maybe not. Maybe we were the ones who had the wrong approach.”
In realising his mistake, Doni urges more players to come forward and confess what they know to the authorities.
Atalanta defender Andrea Masiello asked to give his evidence to the investigative team based on an alleged infiltration of the Bari locker room by organised crime.
“To anyone who is starting out in football, I tell him not to listen to those who ask him to cheat. Report it straight away and don’t just pretend it didn’t happen,” continued Doni.
“Do not follow my example, but instead be like Masiello, who has the courage to reveal all the rot that is within the system. You can make a mistake, but it’s even worse to know and not admit to anything.
“Like an idiot, I thought perhaps it was a small matter and everything involved betting under the table. Up until my arrest, it was really difficult to lie to everyone. In prison I could only think of how stupid I had been, going back over my many mistakes.
“I know I betrayed the Atalanta fans and I cannot ask for their forgiveness. I only hope they don’t cancel out all the good things I did for the club. I’d like to continue living in Bergamo, even though my dream of becoming an Atalanta director is over. I know football is finished for me. I can also categorically deny the club had any idea what was going on.”