Italy’s financial police have initiated an investigation into allegations that commercial broadcaster Mediaset colluded with Infront, the outfit that handles rights negotiations on behalf of Italy’s football league.
Police last Friday raided the offices of Mediaset’s head of sports rights Giorgio Giovetti and Mediaset CEO Marco Giordani, in search of evidence for the claim that the pair colluded with Infront to rig the bidding for Serie A rights to the 2015-18 seasons in favour of Mediaset.
The police are simultaneously investigating Infront’s Italian chief Marco Bogarelli, and have also arrested tax consultant Andrea Baroni, who has been linked by Italian media to Infront – something the company denies – on tax evasion and money laundering charges.
The rights to the seasons were sold to Mediaset and Sky, its chief competitor, for €923 million per season.
Mediaset has denied that it colluded with Infront and said its relations with the outfit were transparent. It reiterated that its executives have always worked “in full compliance with the rules” and that the football deal complied with the Melandri law that is designed to prevent the concentration of rights in the hands of a single operator.
Switzerland-based Infront, which is helmed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s nephew Philippe, confirmed that the Milan prosecutor’s office had launched a probe into the activities of Bogarelli and two other Infront executives, Andrea Locatelli and Giuseppe Ciocchetti, adding that Infront itself as a company was not facing a formal probe. The company denied that it had ever had any relationship with Baroni or his Swiss consultancy outfit.
“Infront and its local management are co-operating with the authorities to establish the accuracy or otherwise of the claims,” the company said.