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Italian whistleblower on fixing joins Aston Villa

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Updates with details, quotes

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) -A coach who refused a >200,000 bribe to help fix an Italian Cup game last year has joined Aston Villa in a community coaching role.

Villa announced on Wednesday its decision to hire Simone Farina, whose actions in refusing the bribe in the match between his club Gubbio and Cesena last November and instead telling police led to the arrest of 17 people.

The 30-year-old Italian was appointed FIFA Ambassador for fair play. He was also invited to train with the Italian national team as a reward for his honesty and praised by captain Gianluigi Buffon, who said Farina showed a "positive example that should not be forgotten."

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said in a statement that Farina's actions are an example to everyone.

"I am very proud of Simone. We definitely need football to be clean, transparent and honest. That's what Simone believes in. That's what we believe in," Blatter said. "It is crucial for the world of football to stand together with players who defend the game against match-fixing. They are role models for society, and especially the children who love our game.

"I wish to congratulate both Aston Villa and Simone, and wish them all the very best in their cooperation."

Villa said its links with Interpol, which investigated the scandal, led to Farina helping the youth academy of the Midlands club. Owner Randy Lerner said Interpol Secretary General Ron Noble felt "Simone would be a good fit for Villa, that he had shown immense courage and integrity when confronted with a very difficult situation."

Farina's life has changed immeasurably since the scandal, shifting from central Italy to central England.

"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," he said.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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