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By ESPN Staff

Tax police search Juventus offices as probe goes on

TURIN, Italy, May 18 (Reuters) - Italian tax police searched the offices of soccer champions Juventus, already reeling from allegations of match-fixing, and the homes of two of their top players on Thursday.

Police entered Juve's HQ as part of an investigation into the club's dealings in the transfer market and also visited the homes of Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro, an investigative source told Reuters.

Transcripts of telephone conversations of Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi discussing the signings of the two players have been published in Italian newspapers. Neither Ibrahimovic nor Cannavaro are under investigation by authorities.

Magistrates have placed Juve's chief executive officer Antonio Giraudo and Moggi, who resigned last week, under investigation on suspicion of false accounting relating to the club's transfer dealings.

Investigative sources in Naples said the police had visited the home of Moggi's son Alessandro as part of a probe into the operations of his soccer management company GEA World.

In a statement, Juventus confirmed the police search of their offices was taking place. The source said that police were also visiting the personal residences of Moggi. Juventus denied Giraudo's home had been visited.

Juventus shares closed down 9.2 percent at 1.3360 euros by 1217 GMT, against a 0.58 percent dip in the overall market <.MIBTEL>.

The club, winner of the Italian league title for the second year running on Sunday, has lost more than 40 percent of its market value since May 9, before the board resigned, and is now worth about 165.7 million euros ($213.7 million).

Juventus faces possible relegation to Serie B if its officials are found guilty of attempting to influence the outcome of matches.

The telephone transcripts showed Moggi discussing referees with the man responsible for refereeing appointments in Italy.

The country's referees association said on Thursday it had provisionally suspended all the referees under investigation.

Juventus said earlier this week that Carlo Sant'Albano, chief executive of the Agnelli family's holding company Ifil which controls the club, would be put temporarily in charge of Juventus at a board meeting set for Friday.

The Turin investigation is one of several to have rocked the world of Italian football this month.

In Naples, 41 people including officials of several clubs, referees and Football Federation executives are under investigation for suspected match-fixing.

The president and vice-president of Italy's federation resigned last week and it was put under emergency administration.

Administrator Guido Rossi, the 75-year-old former head of the stock market regulator, spent 2-1/2 hours with Naples magistrates on Thursday.

Judicial sources said that the meeting had discussed how and when investigators would pass on documents to the federation.

Officials from six-times European champions AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina are also under investigation by magistrates.

European soccer's governing body UEFA needs to know by June 5 the list of clubs who will play in next season's two European competitions. There are concerns a federation investigation into the telephone taps will not be completed by then.

A UEFA spokesman said it was ready to listen to any application for an extension from the Italians when the executive meets in Scotland on Monday.

The draw for the qualifying rounds take place on June 24.