There is a scandal brewing after two Castel di Sangro players confessed their 3-1 defeat to Bari in June 1997 was fixed “by the club.”
The story of their surprise ascent into Serie B became the subject of a book, The Miracle of Castel di Sangro by American author Joe McGinniss, which had also hinted at shady goings-on in the team.
Now La7 television programme Non e l’Arena has published two interviews which confirm the 3-1 defeat to Bari on June 15, 1997 was fixed.
Castel di Sangro had already secured their Serie B safety, while Bari needed a victory to be sure of promotion to the top flight.
Luca Albieri, who was a Castel di Sangro player in that team, confessed on camera to the fix.
“The order that came down directly from the club caused us a lot of problems,” Albieri told the television crew.
“Going to play a game knowing we had to lose, and lose 3-1, really hurt a group and a Coach who had worked well that season. It was a week building up to it that was not done as professionals, as a serious team that we should’ve been.”
The other confession came from an unnamed player who was caught on a hidden camera describing the events of that week.
“The order reached the ‘senators’ of the team and then we realised in the locker room on Saturday morning during the training session, they said it’d end like this.
“We received a bonus for achieving Serie B safety and another bonus for Bari. At least he was honest and did what he had to! He said: ‘I’ll leave you 300, you split it up between yourselves based on who played and who did what.’”
There is another issue here that will bring the scandal back to the forefront, and that is the President of Castel di Sangro at the time was Gabriele Gravina.
This is the same Gravina who was a candidate in the failed election for a new FIGC President only last month and is to this day the President of Lega Pro – the Italian Third Division – a role he has held since 2015.
Gravina and Amateur League President Cosimo Sibilia were in the final election after Damiano Tommasi was ruled out in the first ballot, but neither could get the necessary quota to win.
Bari could also be in serious trouble, because they were already penalised only last year when an investigation found several Serie B games had been fixed in 2010-11.
Then-Bari defender Andrea Masiello, now starring in the Europa League with Atalanta, took a plea bargain for match-fixing and was given a ban of two years and five months in 2012.