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Rumours swirl around Kaladze's link to match-fixing scandal

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, June 1
Leading Georgian television news outlets Rustavi 2 and Imedi have speculated that noted Georgian footballer Kakhi Kaladze may have been involved in the match-fixing scandal in Italy. Both networks have hinted that Italian law enforcement is interested in Kaladze, particularly because of his alleged connection to a Bosnian drug trafficker.

According to Imedi, Bosnian national Altik Safeti has been detained by Italian police. They are also in possession of a taped telephone conversation between Safeti and Kaladze, in which the two discuss a secret meeting – although the reason for the meeting is unclear. On the tape, Kaladze is heard speaking about the "doors" he is going to buy, which police suspect mean goals.

The Prosecutor's Office of Italy is expected to make a statement regarding Kaladze's involvement in the case. On Thursday, law enforcement searched his home in Italy.

Kaladze has denied any connection to the scandal, claiming that his connection to opposition coalition Georgian Dream is what made him a target. As Kaladze’s spokesperson, Otar Chrdileli, explained, the conversation between the footballer and Safeti was related to a marble door Kaladze wanted to buy for his Kobuleti hotel. "The channels [Rustavi 2 and Imedi] are trying to enact a black PR stunt against Kaladze. It is funny that they are trying to connect Kaladze with drugs. As I have mentioned, the conversation was about a hotel door; the meeting was not arranged as Kaladze and Safeti could not agree on some issue," Chrdileli asserted.

Chrdileli also noted that there has been no call from the Italian Prosecutor's Office yet regarding the match-fixing scandal. He believes that if Kaladze is called, it will be as a witness, not a suspect.

Italian police are currently investigating 19 people, including Lazio captain Stefano Mauri and Juve manager Antonio Conte. Out of the nineteen, 11 are current or former players, 14 have been arrested, three are under house arrest, and two others have yet to present themselves to authorities.