Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Juve will accept Serie B

The lawyers defending Juventus have told the trial that the best punishment for the club would be Serie B rather than a drop down to the third division. “Demotion to Serie B with docked points would be a congruous punishment,” Cesare Zaccone claimed in court this evening.

Yesterday prosecutor Stefano Palazzi requested the Bianconeri go down to “a Division lower than Serie B” with a six-point penalty for their part in the match-fixing allegations. He also asked for Lazio and Fiorentina to begin with a 15 point penalty in Serie B, where they’d be joined by Milan on minus three points.

Former Juve director general Luciano Moggi is at the centre of the scandal after his telephone conversations were wiretapped, allegedly attempting to influence the referees assigned to their matches. “You can’t talk about direct responsibility for Juventus, as Moggi has never been a legal representative of the club,” added the lawyer today. “I also believe that Antonio Giraudo should only be considered indirectly responsible for any wrong-doing. The only issue here is the seriousness of the facts, which in my view should be largely re-xxxxuated.”

The Turin giants are attempting to distance themselves from Moggi, who resigned from his post a day after Juve secured their 29th Italian title, and rescue the situation as best they can. “The sanction requested by the prosecutor would dxxxxue the squad by 80 per cent. As the trial continues, 79 per cent of the club’s income is in danger. Juventus do not have a single benefactor behind the side willing to invest money.”

Much has been made in the run-up to the trial of the so-called ‘Moggi system’, but lawyer Zaccone attempted to spread the blame. “There were at least five different systems going on in football. One was created in Genoa, another in Florence, then in Rome which included leading figures in the Federation and another system working in Milan. All of them were opposed and conflicting. This is all that’s needed to explain why the idea of a Mafia-like total system involving everyone is impossible.”

Lazio President Claudio Lotito and Fiorentina patron Diego Della Valle also spoke at the trial today. Both insisted they were “victims of the system” rather than orchestrators and that they had never requested favours from referees.

Della Valle, the founder of luxury leather group Tods, said he had voiced concerns about hostile referees to former FIGC official Paolo Bergamo, who oversaw the draw to select referees in the 2004-05 season. That was when the club narrowly avoided relegation. "When we said we were worried about hostile referees, Bergamo told us that mistakes happened, and that he could put us into the part of the draw that got the best referees to avoid further mistakes," Della Valle told the tribunal. But he denied Fiorentina had done anything wrong. "We thought that maybe the referees' errors were down to psychological pressures. We didn't know there was a system," he said. "Fiorentina were victims of this system."

Former FIGC President Franco Carraro spoke out earlier in the session. “The accusation of sporting fraud levelled at me is humiliating and vile. I acted in good faith and have never cheated anyone. If the facts are confirmed, then something very serious happened in the 2004-05 season.”

The tribunal has said it aims to deliver its verdicts on July 10, the day after Italy take part in the World Cup final in Berlin. Any appeals must be cleared up by July 27, a deadline set by European soccer's ruling body for the list of teams for next season's lucrative Champions' League and UEFA Cup competitions.

Italy coach Marcello Lippi on Wednesday said the scandal had helped the national team to bond. "Certainly, initially, all the confusion that came out two or three months ago created a desire and a determination to respond and show that Italian football is effective, real and strong on a technical and moral level," he said. "It helped to create a tight group."But the outlook for the players after the World Cup remains uncertain. Fabio Capello, who quit as Juventus manager this week, was named as manager of Real Madrid on Wednesday. Italian media speculated about possible transfer moves for players from the clubs involved in the scandal, if they are relegated.


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