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Juve proud to retain Conte

Juventus director general Beppe Marotta has claimed Antonio Conte and assistant Angelo Alessio are innocent following the announcement of trial verdicts in the Italian match-fixing case, describing earlier reports that the coach was set to resign as "absolutely unfounded".

• Conte banned for ten months

Conte was handed a ten-month suspension by an Italian Football Federation (FIGC) panel on Friday, while Alessio received an eight-month ban. Both men will be prevented from either sitting on the bench or entering the dressing room on matchdays.

In a lengthy interview with Turin based sports daily TuttoSport, Marotta said: "It is a bittersweet feeling - we do not know whether to be happy or not. There is a lot of tension and dismay at what is happening to our coach.

"I hope that, faced with this situation, the players find even stronger motivation. We believe Conte is totally unconnected with the facts, and the lawyers are working on appeals to prove his complete innocence as no offence has been committed by him or by Alessio. However, life and sport goes on."

Juventus take on Napoli in the Italian Super Cup on Saturday and Marotta added: "There is a final tomorrow and we need a coach.

"We have chosen, together with Conte, and decided that Massimo Carrera will take charge. With the group, a coach plays a much more important role during the week, so we know Conte will remain our leader. What matters is how we prepare, and Conte will continue to be important during the week as he was last year."

Marotta also expressed satisfaction with the acquittals of players Simone Pepe and Leonardo Bonucci, saying: "For the boys, there was deliverance from a nightmare that had haunted them in recent months.

"I had the honour of accompanying them to Rome for the trial and saw two boys scarred but, unfortunately, life leads us to confront these situations. Today they felt overwhelming joy, but they also shed a few tears.

"Conte suffered and continues to suffer, but he is a fighter and, even in this situation, is finding reasons to be more aggressive.

"An archaic regulation prohibits him from being present at the press conference but he is always at the forefront, never hidden, and is always close to the team."

On the story in La Repubblica that Conte was set to quit, he said: "News of Conte resigning is absolutely baseless. The idea never crossed his mind, and we are proud to have him as coach."


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