Twelve ‘ultra’ fan leaders of Italian Serie A football club Juventus have been arrested for extortion and other crimes after allegedly threatening to instigate racist chants unless they were handed more tickets from the club.

The Associated Press news agency reports that the police said the group threatened to sing racist chants during matches if its ticket allocation was not increased. The threat could have cause Juventus to be fined or face other sanctions from Italian football authorities, while the club’s standing would also be negatively impacted.

Turin prosecutors began their investigation after reports that the Calabrian ’ndrangheta crime mob had allegedly infiltrated the ultras section at the Turin club’s Allianz Stadium.

Charges include criminal association, extortion, money laundering and violence.

In 2017, Andrea Agnelli, president Juventus, faced a one-year ban for allegedly forming relationships with the club’s ultra fans that encouraged touting. Agnelli was fined after approving the sale of season passes and other tickets above the allowable limit, but an Italian soccer federation appeals court lifted his ban in December 2017. At the time, the club was ordered to play a match with one of the main sections of its stadium closed for encouraging touting.

Image: Simone Zappella