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Aug, 21, 2012

Antonio Conte awaits verdict

Juventus coach Antonio Conte said Tuesday he is confident that his 10-month suspension for allegedly failing to report match-fixing during his time in charge of Siena will be overturned in time for the start of the season. The outcome of Conte's appeal is expected to be announced on Wednesday.

"If I was offered just a three-month ban today, my answer would be no," Conte told the Italian newspaper, Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I fully agree with the judges that a 90-day suspension would not be a fair punishment because the right amount of days should be zero. I didn't do anything wrong, or neglect to report what I knew."

Conte and his assistant Angelo Alessio were handed lengthy bans by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) for allegedly failing to report two incidents of match-fixing while in charge of Siena. Alessio was dealt an eight-month ban.

"I'm convinced (the judges) will weigh up the evidence and, with due diligence, avoid any injustice. I have a clear conscience, but I cannot say the same about those who threw mud at me," said Conte, who was in court on Monday as the appeal against his punishment was heard. "My presence in the courtroom was a show of respect. I've taken this process seriously and listened carefully to my lawyers.

"Therefore I'm staying calm and I'm confident that I'll be on the bench for our game against Parma."

At the start of this month, Conte submitted a plea bargain under which he was willing to accept a three-month suspension and a €200,000 fine ($248,000), but the FIGC said it believed that was not a sufficient punishment for the alleged offense.

Conte's legal team, comprising lawyers Giulia Bongiorno, Antonio De Rensis and Luigi Chiappero, sought to discredit key witness Filippo Carobbio during Monday's appeal hearing.

The former Siena defender accused Conte of being involved in match-fixing while the pair worked together at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Conte added: "Carobbio continued to change his statement like a chameleon, tailored to what (prosecutor Stefano) Palazzi wanted to hear. He changed his story one last time, coincidentally three days before my initial hearing."

Carobbio alleged that Conte instructed his squad to try to fix games against Novara and Albinoleffe during his pre-match team-talks.

"Would I have been so stupid to leave myself open to blackmail from 25 players?" the Juventus coach said. "The same Carobbio refers to my speech as 'intense and highly motivating'. And after motivating them all he reckons I said 'anyway, let's fix this'. What planet is he on?

"You have to understand my relationship with the team, I'm not friends with the players and the roles are separate. They are always in awe of me. It's an intense relationship but with a functional goal.

"Off the pitch everybody has their own life. That's why this kind of thing would never reach me and that's how it will always be."

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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