Monday, July 03, 2006

Trial held up again

The trial of four leading Italian clubs on match-fixing charges will resume on Tuesday after a day of legal arguments. The trial opened last Thursday, but was immediately adjourned until today to allow five Serie B clubs hoping for promotion to prepare their cases.

Today, tribunal chief Cesare Ruperto adjourned the trial after about three hours to consider objections raised in the morning session. It was due to restart at 4pm local time, but eventually reconvened at 7.40pm, too late to prevent another day slipping by without questioning.

The atmosphere at the Olympic Stadium was more low-key after the hype surrounding the trial's opening day last Thursday. Outside there was no sign of the passion showed by thousands of Juventus supporters who marched through Turin's streets at the weekend in support of the club.

Inside, the defendants, including top referees, Fiorentina owner Diego Della Valle and AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani, sat at long tables facing the judges in a scene resembling a school classroom. Juventus are the club who are seemingly most at risk and their former employees Luciano Moggi and Antonio Giraudo are two of the defendants.

However, neither were present in the makeshift court room at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome today and are subsequently being represented by their lawyers. Moggi’s man, Fulvio Gianaria, has already taken the opportunity this morning to insist that the court can not try his client given that he is no longer in football. The former director general quit from his post and the game in the aftermath of the revelations on the same day that Juventus lifted their 29th title.

The trial was originally expected to deliver verdicts before July 7, but after the latest delay some commentators are already saying that date looks ambitious. "I can't see it finishing on time. With all the objections it seems impossible," said Gaetano Imparato, 46, a journalist for La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The delays have raised fears that the trial, and the appeals process that will follow, will overrun the deadline of July 27 set by UEFA for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to submit the list of teams to compete in next season's Champions' League and UEFA Cup competitions.


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