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Verdicts expected in Italy's soccer scam

A sports tribunal will hand down sentences on Friday in the corruption scandal that could relegate four Serie A teams including Juventus.

india Updated: Jul 14, 2006 17:44 IST

An Italian sports tribunal will hand down sentences on Friday in the corruption scandal that could relegate four Serie A teams including champion Juventus

Prosecutors are seeking demotion for Juventus to the third-tier Serie C or lower, and for AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio to Serie B.

They also are seeking to strip Juventus, the club at the center of the scandal, of the league titles it won the past two seasons. The Italian soccer federation said on Friday the verdicts were expected by 7 pm local time (1700 GMT).

Thirteen of the 23-man Italian squad that won Sunday's World Cup final against France belong to the four teams involved.

Twenty-five soccer officials - including referees - also face charges of match-fixing and disloyalty at the tribunal set up at Rome's Olympic stadium by the Italian soccer federation.

The officials face being barred from all jobs in soccer. The trial opened June 29 and wrapped up last Friday. A panel of seven judges has since been deliberating behind closed doors.

Prosecutors in Naples, Rome, Parma and Turin are conducting separate criminal probes into sports fraud, illegal betting and false bookkeeping - but any indictments could take months to be issued.

The man at the center of the scandal, former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi, remained defiant.

"I don't feel guilty of anything. We"ll see what comes out," Moggi said in comments aired on Thursday night by Sky TG24 television news. "I'm not ashamed."

Moggi and former Juventus chief executive Antonio Giraudo are accused of creating a network of contacts with federation officials to influence refereeing assignments and get players booked.

The two resigned in May, along with the club's entire board. Lawyers for Juventus have acknowledged that contacting refereeing officials was unsportsmanlike, but deny match-fixing.

They say that demotion to the second division would be an "acceptable" sanction. Also on trial is former federation president Franco Carraro, who resigned in May, plus Milan vice president Adriano Galliani, Fiorentina owner Diego Della Valle and Lazio president Claudio Lotito.

These officials and clubs have denied any wrongdoing and asked the charges to be dismissed.