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By ESPN Staff

AC Milan still hopeful of playing in Europe

AC Milan are still clinging to the hope they could play European football next season.

The investigation into match-fixing by the Federal Appeal Commission on Friday banned Milan from playing in this season's Champions League - they did, however, avoid relegation to Serie B unlike Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina.

Subject to the appeals - all four clubs have confirmed they will challenge the Commission's rulings - Inter Milan and Roma will gain automatic qualification to next season's Champions League while Chievo and Palermo enter the tournament at the qualifying round stage.

Livorno, Parma and Empoli will be entered into the UEFA Cup.

However, a statement on Milan's official website suggests they are looking to compete in the UEFA Cup at Empoli's expense.

'At this time, Empoli do not have a licence to play in the UEFA Cup, having failed to request it and therefore, they cannot participate in a European competition,' the statement read.

'The time frame to request a licence has already expired, hence for AC Milan there is the possibility to play in the 2006-07 UEFA Cup.'

Milan have incurred a 44-point deduction from last year's total, which puts them a point below Empoli in the final league standings.

Their optimism looks to be misplaced, however, as Italian Football Federation commissioner Guido Rossi insisted on Saturday morning that justice had been done and that the punishments fitted the crimes.

'The sporting justice has worked perfectly,' he said. 'Now we must rewrite the rules of football so these things never happen again.'