Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Italy braced for fallout from scandal

In Rome tomorrow, just as Italy wind down their Group E match against the Czech Republic, prosecutors will charge the clubs and individuals involved in the match-fixing scandal.

The eventual outcome could see some unfamiliar names among Italy’s representatives in the Champions League and UEFA Cup next season as the four clubs directly involved in the scandal - Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio - face punishments from demotion to points deductions.

Thirteen members of the Azzurri World Cup squad play for the four clubs and their future is in question, particularly those who play for Juventus, who are likely to be relegated. Players such as Gianluigi Buffon, Gianluca Zambrotta, Mauro Camoranesi and Fabio Cannavaro will probably move on.

The punishment handed to Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina - whose alleged crimes are lesser than those of Juve - are likely to be directly proportional. If Juventus are sent down to Serie C1, then the trio will likely be relegated from the top tier. Otherwise, the three clubs will face points penalties that, in the case of Milan and Fiorentina, will deprive them of Champions League football and could yet lead to a mini fire-sale of stars such as Kaká and Luca Toni.

As it stands, Italy’s list of teams in Europe next season is likely to include Inter, Roma, Chievo and Palermo in the Champions League and Ascoli, Empoli, Livorno and Parma in the UEFA Cup.


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