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Soccer Fix Whistle-blower Farina Hired as Coach by Aston Villa

Simone Farina, a former Italian soccer player whose evidence led to 17 arrests over match fixing, has been hired by English Premier League team Aston Villa as a community coach.

The defender for Serie B team Gubbio went to police when he was offered 200,000 euros ($262,000) to help determine the outcome of an Italian Cup in match in November 2011 between his team and Cesena.

Farina, 30, will work in Villa’s youth and education program, the club said. Soccer ruling body FIFA in May named him a fair play ambassador.

“A year ago I did not see my life moving in this direction but I am really delighted to be able now to contribute in this way at Villa,” Farina said on the team's website.

Italian police made 45 arrests of individuals including players and coaches from 13 teams following an investigation into match fixing and illegal betting. Italian champion Juventus’s coach Antonio Conte was given a 10-month ban, since reduced to four months, for failing to report a match-fixing incident.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he was “very pleased” Villa had hired Farina.

“Such a move highlights the efforts to eradicate match-fixing from our sport,” Blatter said in the statement.

Interpol, the international policy agency, is working with FIFA in combating match-fixing. Interpol secretary-general Ron Noble said Farina’s impact on soccer should be placed alongside that of its best players.

“He needs to become just as important a role model for our youth like stars such as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo,” said Noble. “Corruption in sport is a very complex problem for which there is no quick fix.”

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