The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) is probing text messages sent by two Parma players to players from Spezia ahead of their clash on the final day of the Serie B season, the club admitted on Saturday.
Sports daily Gazzetta Dello Sport earlier claimed that the messages appeared to ask their opponents to not try too hard.
“The players Emanuele Calaio and Fabio Ceravolo were spoken to yesterday afternoon by federation prosecutors. They were simply asked about two text messages sent to ex-teammates playing for Spezia,” Parma said in statement.
“Parma has seen the messages in the last few hours … they don’t contain any sort of irregularity or malice.”
A 2-0 win at Spezia on May 18 saw two-time UEFA Cup winners Parma promoted to the top division just three years after a financial meltdown led to relegation from Serie A and rebirth in the semi-professional Serie D, Italian football’s fourth tier.
Just a year earlier Roberto Donadoni had led Parma to sixth place in Serie A and a spot in the Europa League but late payment of income tax on salaries saw them stripped of their place by the Italian Olympic Committee.
The Gazzetta and Corriere Dello Sport write that the investigation into the match is still in the preliminary phase.
“Those who have the task of ensuring the honesty of a league have the right and duty to carry out any investigations necessary. For this reason every director, player and employee of the club will be accessible to the relevant authorities,” the club added.
Ceravolo was one of Parma’s promotion heroes at Spezia, setting the away side on the way with an 11th-minute opener.
Parma’s Serie A status was sealed when Amato Ciciretti scored a second just after the hour and Foggia, who like Spezia had nothing to play for, scored a last-minute equaliser at promotion-chasing Frosinone.
Foggia’s leveller allowed Parma to move level on points with Frosinone and pip them to second place – their third promotion in as many years – thanks to a better head-to-head record.
Spezia fans reacted furiously to their team’s display after the match, directing particular anger toward former Italian international and ex-Parma player Alberto Gilardino, who smashed a penalty for Spezia high and wide with the hosts still only a goal down.
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)