ROME: Juventus coach Antonio Conte has been banned for 10 months by the Italian federation in the latest step in a virtually permanent investigation into widespread and endemic match-fixing throughout the country’s professional football writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Last year Conte, 43, led the club to the Serie A title in his first season in charge without losing a single game. However he was accused of failing to report alleged match-fixing involving former club Siena in the 2010-11 season.
Conte, whose assistant coach Angelo Alessio was also banned, is set to appeal the decision and Juventus said both retained their full support. Charges against Conte of direct involvement in match-fixing were dismissed last month but the federation said it was satisfied Conte was aware it was taking place during his time with Siena.
Conte had a plea bargain deal rejected by the FIGC earlier this month. He put forward a proposal which would have seen him serve a three-month suspension and pay a fine of 200,000 euros. The federation has now confirmed the 10-month sanction.
Police had previously said Conte was being investigated on suspicion of sporting fraud and fraudulent association over allegations concerning a match between his Serie B side Siena and Novara in April 2011.
In addition to the ban for Alessio, who was Conte’s assistant at Siena, former Lecce president Giovanni Semeraro and ex-Grosseto president Piero Camilli are also facing suspensions.
A statement from Juventus – who were relegated for the first time in their history in 2006 after a previous matchfix case – saod: “Juventus reiterates its full support for Antonio Conte and Angelo Alessio in the hope the next stage of the process will finally prove their innocence.
“A group of legal professionals have been appointed by the individuals concerned and, with the full support of the club, is already working to prepare grounds for an appeal.”
Conte spent 13 years as a player at Juventus from 1991, making more than 400 league appearances, winning five league titles and a European Champions Cup as a right winger or midfielder. He also won 35 caps for Italy and was a member of the squad who finished runners-up at Euro 2000. In addition to Juventus and Siena, he has also managed Arezzo, Bari and Atalanta.
The action followed the launch of a match-fixing task force last June in response to a number of high-profile cases.
Former Atalanta captain and Italy midfielder Cristiano Doni was banned for three-and-a-half years in August 2011 for his part in the ‘Calcioscommesse’ scandal involving Serie B matches last season. He was also arrested in December 2011 over match-fixing and betting allegations.
In addition, former Lazio and Italy striker Giuseppe Signori was banned for five years and 15 other players were banned for between one and five years for their parts.
Grosseto and Lecce have both been excluded from Serie B, the Italian second tier, for the 2012-13 season for their part in the scandal of direct involvement in match-fixing. Both clubs have been relegated to Lega Pro, which covers Italy’s third and fourth divisions.
Six other players – Leonardo Bonucci, Simone Pepe, Marco di Vaio, Salvatore Masiello, Daniele Padelli and Giuseppe Vives – have been acquitted of the charges against them.
In May, police searched more than 30 homes, including those of players, trainers and administrators of clubs in Serie A, Serie B and the lower divisions.
Lazio captain Stefano Mauri, 32, was held along with former Genoa midfielder Omar Milanetto, while officers visited Italy’s pre-Euro 2012 training camp to question left-back Domenico Criscito, 25.
Five people were also arrested in Hungary on suspicion of being part of an illegal international betting ring.
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