Thursday, August 24, 2006

FIFA warning; Lazio's appeal fails

FIFA said Italy could be thrown out of the qualifying campaign for Euro 2008 if Juventus continue to fight relegation to Serie B for match-fixing.

Juve were relegated and docked 17 points for trying to exert influence over referees and are now trying to take their appeal to a civil court. That would be against FIFA's rules and could lead to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) being suspended.

The FIGC has already told Juventus it would impose sanctions if they go to a civil court. In a letter the FIGC said it would not "hesitate to launch the sanction process" if Juve press ahead with their plan to lodge an appeal with the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio (TAR). The FIGC also said Juve had not yet formally lodged their appeal.

Juve were relegated for their role in the match-fixing scandal that rocked Italy and were initially docked 30 points, which was reduced to 17 on appeal. Lazio, Fiorentina, AC Milan, and recently Reggina, have been implicated and all will start next season with point deductions. But Juve are the only Serie A team to have been relegated.

The club announced on Monday it would take its appeal against the FIGC's decision to the TAR. The FIGC reported on their website that they have sent a letter to FIFA explaining their objections to Juve's decision to appeal to the TAR.

The club responded with a statement from their lawyer, Riccardo Montanaro. “We are not taking any illegal steps. If we go to the TAR, it is because the Italian law allows it.”

Meanwhile, Lazio's appeal against their match-fixing penalty has failed. They were docked 11 points for the new season and were kicked out of European competition and fined 100,000 euros having originally qualified for the UEFA Cup from last season's league finish.

Lazio, who had been demanding a reduction in the penalty, will now take their appeal before a CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) arbitration. “We will ask for the elimination of all the sanctions put on this club for the current season,” explained lawyer Ugo Longo. “There are all the elements needed for Lazio to start a campaign without a handicap or suspension.”

CONI have also confirmed that there will not be another delay to the start of the season. The big kick off has already been put back two weeks because of the match-fixing scandal, but chief Gianni Petrucci insists Juventus’ decision to fight on in the civil courts will not cause another hold-up. “Postponement is not an option, the new season will start on September 9 as scheduled,” said Petrucci. “We respect the TAR’s decisions, but I admit there are things that I fear more than an eventual delay in next season’s Serie A start.”

FIGC Statement (Italian) >>>


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