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Jun 5, 2006

Cannavaro determined to remain captain

ROME, June 5 (Reuters) - Italy's Fabio Cannavaro has no intention of giving up his role as captain despite criticism of his comments about Luciano Moggi, the former Juventus general manager at the centre of the scandal in Serie A.

The Juve defender has been under pressure since his remarks about Moggi, whose telephone conversations with high-ranking officials in the Italian game about refereeing appointments sparked an investigation into allegations of match-fixing.

At a news conference last week, Cannavaro suggested Moggi's behaviour was no different from the vast majority of top-level club officials but he changed his tune a day later saying he had 'not been clear in explaining the meaning of my thoughts'.

'I've got absolutely nothing to hide and nothing to feel ashamed of,' he was quoted as saying in La Repubblica on Monday.

'There has been a campaign to strip me of the captain's armband but I'm not worried. I know I deserve it and I've got the support of the coach and my team mates.'

Even so, the past few weeks have been a bumpy ride for the 33-year-old Cannavaro.

Last month his house was searched by Italian tax police as part of an investigation into Juventus's transfer dealings.

On Saturday, less than 24 hours after Italy's final World Cup warm-up against Ukraine in Lausanne, he travelled to Rome to be questioned by magistrates as part of a probe into soccer management company GEA World, which is run by Moggi's son Alessandro.

'What bothered me the most in these last few weeks was being misinterpreted at that press conference,' said Cannavaro.

'I never defended Moggi. I never defended anyone. I clearly said that whoever had made a mistake should pay for it.

'To a specific question about him (Moggi) I simply said that he did his job as general manager well. He always behaved in the right way with the team.

'If I had said the opposite I would have been a hypocrite.'

Italy open their World Cup Group E campaign against Ghana on June 12 in Hanover before facing the United States and Czech Republic.