Former FIFA referee Paparesta leads consortium buying FC Bari

Ex-referee Gianluca Paparesta led a consortium Tuesday in its successful bid of 4.8 million euros at auction for the bankrupt Serie B soccer team in Bari. Paparesta was the public face of corporation FC Bari 1908 Ltd. during the auction, where about 50 fans chanted "Gianluca is one of us" as bidding rose by increments of about 200,000 euros. An unsuccessful rival bid of 4.6 million euros was submitted by Antonio Cipollone of Bari soccer 2014 Srl. Sources said that the chairman of the Serie B Andrea Abodi telephoned Paparesta, a native of Bari, to offer his congratulations on the winning bid. Paparesta, who said he would reveal the investors' identity after the papers are signed, called the purchase "a great project for a great platform and a great crowd". Paparesta (photo) was among a number of referees and other soccer figures caught up in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal uncovered in 2006 by Italian police and involving a number of clubs in the country's top professional soccer leagues, Serie A and Serie B. Clubs that were implicated in the scandal included Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Reggina after police intercepted telephone conversations showing relationships between team managers and referees. Paparesta was handed a five-month ban from soccer as a result of the investigation in 2008 and after a lengthy and unsuccessful appeal process resigned in 2010.

Source: Gazzetta del Sud