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By ESPN Staff

Court rejects appeal by ex Juventus officials

ROME, Aug 22 (Reuters) - An Italian court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by two former top officials of Juventus who were found guilty of sporting fraud by a soccer tribunal which relegated the club to the second division.

Legal sources said the Lazio regional court ruled there were no grounds now to suspend bans and fines imposed by the soccer tribunal against former Juve general manager Luciano Moggi and ex-chief executive Antonio Giraudo, as they had requested.

Moggi's lawyer, Paolo Trofino, was quoted by ANSA news agency as saying he would turn to a higher Italian appeals court and even to the European Court of Justice.

However, Trofino said the Lazio regional court had not ruled on the merits of the case and could decide later to hear an appeal by Moggi, at the heart of the match-fixing scandal that erupted in May with the publication of tapped phone calls.

Juventus announced on Monday that it would also appeal to the Lazio court over its relegation, a move that could further delay the start of Italy's soccer season which is due to kick off on Sept. 10.

The soccer tribunal had found Moggi and Giraudo guilty of influencing the appointment of referees on behalf of the club, who won the Italian championship the last two years. They had hoped to challenge the conviction in the civil court.

Juve were stripped of both titles. Four other Serie A teams were penalised over the affair but not as harshly as Juventus and were allowed to remain in the top league.