Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Appeals to continue, Inter are Champions

Juventus have said they will continue to appeal against the punishment of relegation from Serie A following their part in the match-fixing scandal. Italy's system of justice in sport offers one more level of appeal, before the Turin club can move their case to a civil court. "We will exhaust the sporting justice procedure," club chief Giovanni Cobolli Gigli told Gazzetta dello Sport. "If we aren't satisfied at that stage then we will go to the regional court."

Juventus will start next season in Serie B with a 17-point deduction, if the verdict from Tuesday's appeal ruling remains in force. And they have also been stripped of their 2005/06 Serie A title, with Inter Milan assigned champions instead. The title is Inter's first since 1989 and was awarded to them after a three-man panel of Gerhard Aigner, Massimo Coccia and Roberto Pardolesi - working on behalf of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) - agreed to assign the 2005/06 title. "In the event of a title merely being revoked without modifying the classification, the title must necessarily remain unassigned," explained the report written by the three-man commission. "On the contrary, in the event of sanctions that imply changes to the league table (such as point deductions or enforced relegation), article 49 imposes the automatic assignment of the title to the team which are then first in the table after considering the sanctions."

"I am fully satisfied by the awarding of the title to a club and team that behaved correctly," said Inter owner Massimo Moratti, who finally gets his hands on the 'Scudetto' after 11 years in charge of the club. Coach Roberto Mancini said: "I'm happy. Regardless of how it arrived, it is right to reward those who have given their best and have always been honest. It is strange to win like this but we played fair."

The 2004/05 title, which Juve were also stripped of, has been revoked and will remain vacant for the time being.

Fiorentina and Lazio, who had their Serie A status restored, will also appeal against the penalty points that removed them from European competition. "It's the first step. We haven't done anything and we will go down every avenue to clear our name," said Fiorentina owner Diego Della Valle. "Now we will go to all the courts possible to remove any shadow of guilt and give back what they have taken from us," he added. Lazio president Claudio Lotito said that his Rome outfit would "move to other levels of justice" in order to get their sentence changed.

AC Milan are the only one of the four clubs charged who will not appeal after their sentence was reduced allowing them to play in the qualifying round of the Champions League next season.

But they may still be banned from competing in Europe by UEFA, reports on Wednesday were suggesting. It’s understood that the European game’s footballing body will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss their options, one of which could be not to accept their entry.

“The meeting has been set up to take a decision on Italy’s participants for European competition during next season,” a UEFA spokesman is quoted as saying on numerous Italian websites.

UEFA do have the power to decline a club entry into their competitions as William Gaillard, their head of communications, has previously outlined. "Who plays in the European competitions will be up to the UEFA committee,” he underlined. "In the past, the committee have made exceptions by preventing clubs from taking part in European competitions. Marseille were one case in 1993.''

The then Champions League holders, who beat Milan 1-0 in the 1993 Final, were thrown out of the competition after they were found guilty of match-fixing in the French League.


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