Serie A's Palermo deny Mafia extortion reports

December 28, 2007

ROME, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Palermo have refuted Italian media reports that the Serie A club may have been the victim of Mafia extortion attempts.

'Palermo categorically denies that the club, its administrators or directors have ever received demands or pressures of an extortive nature from anyone or, even less so, from anyone linked to organised crime,' said a statement on the club's website.

La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper said on Friday that a letter written to captured Mafia boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo mentioned one of Palermo's youth team coaches and the club's plans to build a new stadium.

The letter was among documents seized when Lo Piccolo was arrested at his Sicilian hideout last month, it said.

'We are only at the planning stage (for the stadium), there is no call for tenders,' Palermo Managing Director Rinaldo Sagramola told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

'It is an important project and who knows if it might have stirred the interest of the criminal world, as well as that of honest entrepreneurs.

'Anyway this club has never received any type of pressure, demand or contact, zero.'