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By ESPN Staff

Emotional Moggi resigns as Juve general manager

ROME, May 14 (Reuters) - Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi said on Sunday he was resigning from his post so that he could defend himself from accusations at the heart of a scandal which has rocked Italian soccer.

'From tomorrow I will have resigned as general manager of Juventus, from this evening the world of football is no longer my world,' an emotional Moggi told reporters after Juventus had secured the league title for the second year in a row.

'Now I will think only about defending myself from all the malice that been said about me,' added Moggi who is regarded as the most powerful club official in Italian football.

The scandal, which has led to a series of resignations and has resulted in 41 people being placed under investigation by public prosecutors, followed the publication of intercepted telephone conversations featuring Moggi.

In the phone calls, Moggi discussed refereeing appointments with senior football federation officials during the 2004-05 season and also bragged of locking a referee in the changing room after a game.

Moggi, who has been in his position at Juventus since 1994, appeared live on television but said he would only read a statement and not answer questions.

'I ask you for a courtesy, don't ask me any questions because I don't have the desire or the strength. I don't have the soul for it, they have killed it,' said Moggi before announcing his resignation.

Moggi is due to meet with public prosecutors in Rome on Monday to face questions about the telephone taps and the role in the game of the company GEA, an agency for nearly 200 players and coaches, which is run by his son Alessandro.

The scandal came to public light a fortnight ago when recordings of phone calls - many featuring Moggi - were published in the press.

Many of the conversations featured Moggi and Pairetto and the two men can be heard discussing appointments.

Last weekend four referees were rested from Serie A duty while on Saturday Massimo De Santis was withdrawn from the list of World Cup officials - the whistleblower has voluntarily met Naples magistrates investigating alleged corruption in the game.

Separate probes are also being carried out by magistrates in Rome and Turin.

Meanwhile, top Italian magistrate Antonio Di Pietro warned that there was a danger that the affair could be brushed under the carpet.

Di Pietro became a national hero in Italy during the 1990s when his probe into corruption in politics led to a revolution in the country's political system and the collapse of the Christian Democrat party that had governed Italy since the war - that affair was known as 'tangentopoli' in Italy.

Di Pietro said 'From the first moments this (the football scandal) came out into the open I am already beginning to feel the attempts to try and put obstacles in the way.

'I think, and I am worried, that in a few days the debate will move to who bugged the phone calls, why the charges have been laid and why magistrates are wasting their time on this sort of thing.'

Referring to the political crisis of the 1990s, he said: 'I have already seen this film. At the time of tangentopoli, when it was discovered that the problem was so deep and affected the whole system, people preferred to close their eyes and worry about who was doing the investigating rather than who was committing the crimes.'