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Oct 11, 2012

Agnelli: No doubt Conte is innocent

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli has said it "took two minutes" for him to believe that coach Antonio Conte was innocent of the match-fixing claims that led to him being suspended for ten months.

Conte had his suspension reduced to four months by Italy's sporting arbitration court, and the verdict means the 43-year-old will be back on the touchline for the Italian champions when they take on Palermo on December 9.

He was suspended by the Italian Football Federation after being accused of failing to report match-fixing in games against Novara and Albinoleffe during his time as coach of Siena in Serie B.

Speaking at the Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge this week, Agnelli said: "It took me just two minutes with Conte to understand his innocence."

He had previously told the club's official website that the ban had been a "miscarriage of justice" and added: "I maintain my view, which is shared by everyone at Juventus, that Antonio Conte is an innocent man and in no way guilty of the charges levelled at him."

In a statement after his ban was reduced, Conte's lawyers said: "We are aware that we have defended an innocent man and not been able to secure a verdict that clears him of involvement in the contested facts. We therefore feel no sense of satisfaction."

Agnelli also defended the Turin club over the 2006 Calciopoli scandal, in which a number of clubs were accused of rigging games by ensuring that they were officiated by favourable referees.

"The conclusions were based on speculation," he said. "There was not a single shred of evidence against us.

"The decision was based on Article One, relative to sporting behaviour. The conclusion was that, if you behave in an anti-sporting manner three times, then it counts as sporting fraud - but there was no proof.

"There is a court of justice that ruled the 2005-06 season was not influenced in any way and another court ruled that the previous season was never under investigation."

Agnelli said the Bianconeri would do their utmost to succeed in Europe, explaining: "For some time, Juventus have been adhering to the Financial Fair Play rules, and I hope other European clubs are too.

"The Champions League is the most prestigious competition on the continent and, considering our history, we must try to win it."

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