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Oct, 26, 2012

Napoli faces match-fixing charge

ROME -- Serie A title-contender Napoli and team captain Paolo Cannavaro were ordered by the Italian football federation Friday to face match-fixing allegations.

Current and former Napoli players Gianluca Grava and Matteo Gianello and former Napoli assistant Silvio Giusti were also called in for questioning over the May 16, 2010, Sampdoria-Napoli match.

Sampdoria won the match 1-0 with a goal from current AC Milan player Giampaolo Pazzini in the 51st minute. It was the final round of the season and the victory secured Sampdoria fourth place and a spot in Champions League qualifying.

Gianello and Giusti are accused of sports fraud by attempting to fix the match in exchange for money, while Cannavaro and Grava are accused of failing to report fixing.

Cannavaro is the younger brother of former Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro.

Napoli could be deducted points and the players could be banned if found guilty.

Several others were also called in for questioning over alleged fixing in the lower-division Portogruaro-Crotone match in May, 2011.

The accusations stem from an investigation by Naples prosecutors.

Napoli trails Serie A leader Juventus by three points, as the southern club chases its first title since Diego Maradona helped secure the championship in 1987 and 1990.

Four Serie A clubs were already docked points this season for match-fixing. Siena was penalized six points, Atalanta two and Sampdoria and Torino one each.

The federation's justice system provides two levels of sentences: the disciplinary commission's initial verdict and an appeal. Sentences can then be appealed to a national sports arbitration court, which has the final word.

Antonio Conte, the coach of Serie A champion Juventus, recently had his ban reduced from 10 months to four months by the arbitration court.

"The dynamics of sports justice are illogical," Cannavaro's lawyer Ruggiero Malagnini said, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport's website. "The news doesn't surprise me. It was in the air. Clarifications have been made and they will have an effect on ordinary justice. Now our focus will be on sports justice."

At least 50 people have been arrested for match-fixing since the middle of last year, with scores more under investigation by prosecutors in Cremona, Bari and Naples.

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