World Cup winner Vincenzo Iaquinta has been sentenced to two years in prison for illegally holding firearms amid links with the 'Ndrangheta mafia.
The 38-year-old, who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, was found guilty by a court in Reggio Emilia at the conclusion of the largest investigation into mafia activity in the north of Italy, which went by the codename "Aemelia."
Evidence showing Iaquinta with 'Ndrangheta members had been provided during the process, although the former Juventus and Udinese forward said he was innocent and was only being punished for being born in Calabria.
"We don't even know what 'Ndrangheta means in our family," Iaquinta screamed at reporters as he was escorted out of the courtroom. "It's ridiculous. They've ruined my life for nothing, because I am Calabrian; because I'm from Cutro.
"I'm a world champion. I'm proud to be Calabrian. We've not done anything because we don't have anything to do with 'Ndrangheta. It's killing me, for my family and my children, without having done anything. It's a disgrace."
However, a spokesperson for Agende Rosse, an anti-Mafia activist group which is behind a recent mass arrest of people with links to 'Ndrangheta, told ESPN FC that Iaquinta was arrested due to his connections to the Calabrian Mafia.
"Vincenzo Iaquinta has been sentenced to two years, we can confirm," a statement read. "Effectively, for having held arms on behalf of his father Giuseppe Iaquinta, sentenced to 19 years for association with Mafia groups. Both sentence on first grades."
Back in May 2017, Iaquinta told the courts he had made a mistake in not notifying the authorities that he had moved two guns in his possession to his father's home, after these unregistered firearms were discovered by police in 2015.