Msida St Joseph vice president Robert Farrugia, one of the Maltese under investigation for match fixing in Italy, allegedly told an Italian national over the phone that Chinese gamblers had threatened to kill his brother.

Mr Farrugia has been implicated, along with his brother Adrian, in a match-fixing ring that targeted games in the third and fourth tier levels of Italian football.

When contacted by Times of Malta yesterday, Mr Farrugia said he had nothing to say.

The operation, code-named Dirty Soccer, led to the arrest of various club presidents, coaches, players, club officials and financiers. The Italian police are alleging that the Farrugia brothers were among foreign nationals acting as financiers.

The transcript of a phone call intercepted by the Catanzaro police and published in the Italian press sheds light on the rough side of the illegal betting network. In his alleged conversation with Felice Bellini, a former Italian director general of Vittoriosa Stars with past links to Gudja United and Qormi FC, Mr Farrugia allegedly laments the loss of €52,000 on the low level match Aversa Normanna versus Barletta. Barletta unexpectedly won and Mr Farrugia blamed team coach Ninni Corda, who was also arrested in the sting.

It is alleged that Mr Farrugia told Mr Bellini the coach should refund the €52,000 lost on the match because Chinese gamblers were threatening his brother.  

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