Rome, Italy: Newly-promoted Parma are under investigation for an alleged attempt to fix the match that sealed their incredible rise from financial collapse to Serie A in just three years, according to reports.
Italian sports daily Gazzetta Dello Sport reported on Saturday that the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) is probing claims that two Parma players sent text messages to players from Spezia ahead of their clash on the final day of the Serie B season, in which the Gazzetta claims they asked their opponents not to try too hard.
A 2-0 win at Spezia on May 18 saw the two-time UEFA Cup winners promoted to the top division just three years after a financial meltdown led to relegation from Serie A and rebirth in the semi-professional Serie D, Italian football's fourth tier.
Just a year earlier Roberto Donadoni had led Parma to sixth place in Serie A and a spot in the Europa League but late payment of income tax on salaries saw them stripped of their place by the Italian Olympic Committee.
The Gazzetta and Corriere Dello Sport write that the investigation into the match is still in the preliminary phase. Attempts made by AFP to contact the FIGC were met with no reply.
One of the Parma players alleged to have sent the text messages to his Spezia counterparts, Fabio Ceravolo, scored the match's opener after 11 minutes.
Parma's promotion was sealed when Amato Ciciretti scored a second just after the hour and Foggia, who like Spezia had nothing to play for, scored a last-minute equaliser at promotion-chasing Frosinone.
Foggia's leveller allowed Parma to move level on points with Frosinone and pip them to second place and their third promotion in as many years thanks to a better head-to-head record.
Spezia fans reacted furiously to their team's display after the match, directing particular anger toward former Italian international and ex-Parma player Alberto Gilardino, who smashed a penalty for Spezia high and wide with the hosts still only a goal down.