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Italian club official faces prosecutors

Juventus shares dived on Monday as the general manager faced prosecutors in a match-fixing probe in the Italian league.

india Updated: May 15, 2006 17:20 IST

Prosecutors on Monday questioned Luciano Moggi, the Juventus general manager who resigned in the wake of a massive scandal rocking Italian soccer.

Moggi did not speak to reporters as he arrived in Rome for what was expected to be a long meeting with prosecutors over allegations that he influenced the appointment of referees.

Prosecutors in Naples, Rome, Parma and Turin are conducting probes ranging from match fixing to illegal betting.

"As of tonight soccer is no longer my world," Moggi said on Sunday in his first public comment on the scandal. "Now I will think only of defending myself from all the nasty things that are said about me."

Moggi begged reporters not to ask him any more questions, saying, "My soul can't bear it. It's been killed."

The comments came minutes after Juventus won its second straight Serie A title by beating Reggina 2-0. But the Turin-based club might be stripped of the title - as well as last year's championship - if fraud in the refereeing scandal is proven.

Outgoing Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who owns AC Milan, said his club should be awarded the last two titles. Milan finished second both seasons.

"We demand that the titles we deserve be returned to us," Berlusconi said. "We're tired of this injustice."

On Monday, Juventus' stock was suspended on the Milan stock exchange for excessive losses, after it dropped some 13 percent in early trading.

The scandal has stunned Italy, where for days media have been publishing transcripts of alleged conversations between Moggi and refereeing officials.

The case has been dubbed 'Clean Feet' - a reference to the 'Clean Hands' political corruption probes of the early 1990s - and 'Soccer Bribesville.'

The entire Juventus board of directors, including Moggi, resigned last week.

Moggi and Juventus' former managing director, Antonio Giraudo, are being investigated for allegedly trying to arrange for the appointment of favorable referees for the team's games.

They also are being investigated for allegedly kidnapping a referee and two linesmen who were trapped in a locker room at the end of a game in which Reggina beat Juventus in November 2004.

Naples prosecutors said last week four Serie A clubs - Juventus, Lazio, AC Milan and Fiorentina - are involved in the match-fixing probe. The illegal betting probe has involved Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Buffon has denied any wrongdoing. But his participation at the World Cup remained in doubt hours before coach Marcello Lippi was to announce his squad for the June 9 to July 9 tournament in Germany.

The probes have also led to the resignation of Italian soccer federation president Franco Carraro. The federation also said it sent letters to FIFA and UEFA to rescind accreditation for World Cup referee Massimo De Santis.

First Published: May 15, 2006 15:23 IST