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Five Aside: Di Maria a skillful crosser

Five Aside 16 hours ago
Read
Aug 10, 2012

Juventus coach Conte banned

The Juventus coach Antonio Conte has been banned for ten months in the aftermath of the match-fixing scandal. His deputy, Angelo Alessio, has been banned for eight.

• Juve proud to retain Conte
• Mazzarri: Napoli can beat Juve

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. Both had been accused of direct involvement in match-fixing rather than the lesser charge of failing to report it.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) confirmed that it had banned Conte for failing to report unsporting behaviour in relation to a match-fixing investigation. The charges related to his time at Siena in 2010-11.

Charges of direct involvement in match-fixing levelled against Conte were dismissed in July, but the FIGC ruled that it was satisfied he was aware it was happening during his time with Siena.

A statement from the FIGC said: "[These are] the judgements issued today by the National Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Sergio Artico, in relation to two cases of match-fixing.

"Among the officials, the more severe penalties are those of the president of Grosseto, Camilli, and the former president of Lecce, Semeraro, [for both a five-year ban]; the disqualification of ten months for Antonio Conte, currently coach of Juventus, and for eight months his deputy Angelo Alessio.''

It means Conte and Alessio, his deputy both at Siena and Juventus, will be barred from taking their place on the bench or in the dressing room, but will allow them to train the squad as normal during the week.

Juventus players Leonardo Bonucci and Simone Pepe, members of last season's title-winning squad, have been cleared of any involvement, as have Udinese, Salvatore Masiello, Daniel Padelli, Giuseppe Vives and Montreal Impact striker Marco Di Vaio. The FIGC confirmed that former Bari defender Nicola Belmonte has been banned from football for six months.

As well as being demoted to the Lega Pro along with Grosseto, Lecce were fined €30,000, while both their former presidents were banned from any involvement in football for five years.

Serie A side Bologna must pay a €30,000 fine and Ancona €10,000 while Novara have been deducted two points next season. Serie A Torino, Serie B Varese and relegated Albinoleffe will pay fines of €30,000 and begin the season with one-point penalties after plea bargains were accepted.

On Wednesday, there were conflicting reports in the Italian press about Conte's future at Juve. A number of them speculated he could resign if a ban was imposed.

According to La Repubblica, Conte is ready to offer his resignation, following the path taken by Cristian Stellini, another of his coaches, who was banned for 30 months for his role in affecting results while playing for Bari in 2009-10.

But Juve director general Beppe Marotta said: "News of Conte resigning is absolutely baseless. The idea never crossed his mind, and we are proud to have him as coach."

The coach had refused to negotiate a second plea-bargain agreement after the first - which would have seen him accept a three-month suspension - was rejected by the FIGC disciplinary commission.

The commission believed that punishment, accompanied by a €200,000 fine, was not sufficient for the offence. That meant Conte was subject to a full sporting trial, with the possibility of a much longer ban being imposed as his punishment.

Prosecutor Stefano Palazzi had recommended a 15-month suspension on the grounds that Conte failed to alert authorities to two potentially fixed matches during his stint at Siena.

Juve have said they will stand by their coach and put Massimo Carrero, a member of his staff, in charge during games and issued a statement on Friday which said: "Juventus Football Club warmly welcomes the acquittal of its players Leonardo Bonucci and Simone Pepe, and reiterates its full support for Antonio Conte and Angelo Alessio in the hope the next stage of the process [an appeal] 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.''

Siena had submitted a plea bargain under which they were prepared to accept a five-point deduction and a fine of €40,000, but this was turned down.

The situation had escalated in May, when police searched more than 30 homes belonging to players, coaches and administrators from clubs in the top two divisions and lower leagues.

Lazio captain Stefano Mauri and former Genoa midfielder Omar Milanetto were held, and the scandal affected the Italian team's Euro 2012 preparations as police quizzed left-back Domenico Criscito at the training camp.

A little over a year ago, a match-fixing task force was set up to enable a co-ordinated approach to be taken to numerous cases of potential fixing. In total, 45 people and 13 clubs were under investigation.

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