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Sports

Juventus coach banned in match-fixing scandal

Juventus coach Antonio Conte has been given a ten-month ban for alleged his involvement in Italian match-fixing. His ban comes admist a number of suspensions and fines relating to the Calcioscommesse scandal.

Juventus coach Antonio Conte was effectively banned for the coming season by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) on Friday for his connection to the Calcioscommesse match-fixing scandal. Conte, who led the club to an undefeated Serie A title last season, was accused of failing to report incidences of match-fixing in two games while head coach of then Serie B side Siena.

Angelo Alessio, his assistant at Siena and Juventus, was given an eight-month ban. The matches in question took place against Novara and Albinoleffe in May 2011. The ruling comes just two weeks before the start of the Serie A season, potentially leaving the Turin club without a head coach.

Juventus defender and Italian international Leonardo Bonucci, who was facing a possible three-and-a-half year ban, was acquitted along with teammate Simone Pepe by the FIGC tribunal. The charges against the two were related to a 3-3 draw between Bonucci's Bari and Pepe's Udinese in 2010.

'Full support'

"Juventus … warmly welcomes the acquittal of its players Leonardo Bonucci and Simone Pepe and reiterates its full support for Antonio Conte and Angelo Alessio in the hope that the next degree of judgment can finally allow their innocence to emerge fully," the club said in a statement.

The FGIC had originally asked for a 15-month ban for Conte and Alessio. Juventus president Andrea Agnelli strongly condemned the request, saying that the FGIC was "operating outside all logic."

Conte and Alessio are expected to appeal their bans. Their legal team "is already drawing up the grounds for appeal, in the firm belief that the coaches had no involvement in the matter," Juventus also said.

The Calcioscomesse scandal embroiled Italian football in enormous controversy when police raided the national team's training camp during their preparations for the 2012 European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.

Germany's Mesut Oezil (R) makes a pass past Italy's Leonardo Bonucci (L) and Andrea Pirlo during their Euro 2012 semi-final soccer match at the National Stadium in Warsaw, June 28, 2012.

Bonucci (left) played in every one of Italy's matches at Euro 2012

The investigation involved players suspected of being targeted by illegal betting syndicates to fix matches. A number of coaches and players were arrested, including Lazio Captain Stefano Mauri, who had to withdraw from Italy's Euro 2012 squad.

Bonucci remained with the Italian team for the duration of the tournament, and started in the final when the team lost 4-0 to defending champions Spain. The 25-year-old joined Juventus in 2010 and recently extended his contract until 2017.

Fines and deductions

The FGIC said that it had fined and deducted points from a number of the 13 clubs under investigation, and handed out suspensions to many of the 45 players implicated.

Serie B sides Grosseto and Lecce were demoted, and their former presidents were given five-year bans from the game. Siena were docked six points and fined 100,000 euros ($122,620).

Bologna and current Montreal Impact striker Marco Di Vaio were acquitted by the committee, but defender Daniele Portanova was given a sixth-month ban.

The controversy comes six years after the Calciopoli scandal the rocked Italian football just before their 2006 World Cup triumph. Juventus were stripped of two league titles and demoted to the Seria B second tier for trying to influence refereeing appointments.

dr/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa)