A lawyer representing a close friend and gambling associate of Stefano Mauri has revealed his passion for betting on high-profile sporting events, while dismissing any charges that the Lazio captain is involved in the current match-fixing scandal that has enveloped Italian football.
The Lazio midfielder, 32, was arrested earlier in the week along several other high-profile players, as part of an investigation into a ring of match-rigging that has been dubbed Scommessopoli. The charges are related to the activities of a Malaysian national named Tan Seet Eng, who was detained in 2011.
Speaking on Saturday, attorney Simone Colangeli - who represents Luca Aureli, the owner of a betting agency and allegedly a close personal friend of Mauri - explained that the Lazio man was fond of gambling, but that allegations of match-fixing were baseless.
"The Lazio captain, out of fear of compromising his personal reputation and public image by being labelled a gambler, asked his friend Luca Aureli to bet on NBA games and on tennis with the utmost discretion in the Rome betting halls," reads a press release from Colangeli.
"To do this through Luca Aureli, Mauri received a sim card bought by his partner, Samantha Romano. It seems obvious that, were this intended for use in illegal betting Aureli would never have obtained a sim card for him that could be so easily traced.
"Telephone contact with the Lazio captain has always been frequent, owing to the fact that Aureli is bound to him by a close bond of friendship totally unrelated to gambling, and he denies any relationship with the 'gypsies': underlining that there has been no unusually high activity in his betting agency."
Mauri has been with Lazio since 2006, and has appeared 11 times for the Azzurri.