Monday, July 10, 2006

Italy awaits on the verdicts

A verdict into the Italian match-fixing scandal will be delivered in the next few days. A judge in Rome will decide the fate of Juventus, AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina, who face the threat of relegation from Serie A. The decision will affect 13 members of Italy's triumphant World Cup squad, who play for the clubs accused of influencing referee appointments. Juve may also be stripped of their last two titles - if they are found guilty of influencing referees. The four clubs have denied the accusations.

The tribunal in Rome is investigating charges that the clubs, their management, football officials and referees tried to influence the outcome of matches by interfering with the appointment of officials. In May transcripts were published of telephone conversations between former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi and Italian Football Association officials, discussing refereeing appointments in the 2004-05 season. Italy's Football Federation's (FIGC) prosecutor Stefano Palazzi also charged 26 individuals for sporting fraud and violating fairness and probity.

The prosecutor has called for Juventus to be relegated to the third division, the other three teams to be demoted to the second division and for all four teams to be docked points next season. The judge could also hand out fines, bans from European competitions, points deductions as well as relegation and the stripping of titles.

The lawyer for Juventus, Cesare Zaccone, said on Wednesday the club might agree to relegation to Italy's second division, if found guilty.

In 1982, Italy included striker Paolo Rossi in their World Cup squad, despite an earlier ban for his involvement in a corruption scandal. He went on to be top scorer as they won the tournament in Spain.


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