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Rediff.com  » Sports » Juventus, Lazio, Fiorentina demoted

Juventus, Lazio, Fiorentina demoted

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Last updated on: July 15, 2006 12:17 IST

Italy's most successful soccer club Juventus were relegated to second division Serie B on Friday along with ex-champions Fiorentina and Lazio after a sports tribunal found the clubs guilty of offences in a match-fixing trial.

Bringing to a head the biggest scandal in European soccer for decades, the tribunal also ruled that AC Milan, although they will stay in Serie A, would have their points from last season reduced by 44 -- ruling them out of next season's Champions League.

Juventus were stripped of their last two title wins -- from 2006 and 2005.

All four clubs will start next season with points penalties with Juventus forced to begin their Serie B campaign with minus 30 points -- almost ensuring they will spend at least two seasons in Serie B.

Milan will start their Serie A campaign next season with minus 15 points. In Serie B, Fiorentina begin on minus 12 and Lazio on minus seven.

The clubs have the opportunity to appeal the decision and all said they are ready to fight.

Juventus said in a statement that they would be appealing what they called an "unbelievable" decision, while Milan said the verdict is "an extraordinary injustice".

Fiorentina said their relegation is "profoundly unjust" and promised to "fight with all means and in every forum" while Lazio president Claudio Lotito said he is willing to take the matter as far as the European Court of Justice.

Angry Juventus fans gathered in front of the club's headquarters in Turin while Fiorentina fans protested in Florence and Lazio supporters made their feelings known outside the Rome hotel where the verdict was announced.

Together the four clubs punished accounted for most of the players in the Italy team which on Sunday beat France to win the World Cup after a penalty shootout.

Many of the top players from Juventus may seek new clubs either in Italy or elsewhere in Europe.

Coach Fabio Capello, who guided Juventus to the two titles they have been stripped of, quit as coach last week and joined Spanish club Real Madrid.

INTERCEPTED CALLS

The scandal broke in May with the publication of intercepted telephone conversations between a former Juventus official and Italian soccer authorities discussing refereeing appointments.

As well as the clubs, the tribunal barred a number of club officials from the game for varying lengths.

Former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi, who was at the centre of the scandal, was banned from the game for five years and ex-Federation president Franco Carraro for four and a half years.

Moggi said that no wrongdoing had been committed.

"Everything was done in a regular way. No match was fixed, no referee was pressured. Juventus, the other teams and above all the fans have been defrauded by this sentence," Moggi was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA.

Referee Massimo De Santis, who missed out on the World Cup due to the scandal, was handed a four and a half year ban while another Serie A referee, Paolo Dondarini, was handed one of three and a half years.

A prosecutor who brought charges had sought relegation to the third division Serie C for Juventus.

Officials from some of the Italian clubs named in the scandal have said they will turn to Italy's civil courts, raising the prospect of a messy legal battle.

Should the verdicts be upheld after appeal then Inter Milan and AS Roma will go straight into the Champions League group stage next season with Palermo and Chievo Verona in the qualifying round.

No decision has been made on which teams will fill the gaps in Serie A although relegated teams Lecce, Messina and Treviso will expect to be returned to the top flight.

Source:
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