Juventus demoted over match-fixing scandal
The football giants were stripped of their 2005 and 2006 league titles over their managers' role in match-fixing.india Updated: Jul 15, 2006 12:21 IST
Football giants Juventus were demoted to Italy's second division and stripped of their 2005 and 2006 league titles over their managers' role in a major match-fixing scheme.
Rome's sports tribunal judges also demoted Fiorentina and Lazio and inflicted a 44-points penalty on AC Milan, meaning the club will be prevented from taking part in next year's European tournaments and will have to start the next Serie A season with a 15-points penalty.
Juventus, the club most heavily involved in the scandal, was also handed a 30-points penalty late Friday. Lazio and Fiorentina will start the next season in Serie B with a 7 points and 12 points penalty respectively.
Judge Cesare Ruperto also convicted a number of club managers as well as referees and Italian Football Federation officials. The main man in the affair, former Juve director Luciano Moggi, was banned from football for five years.
The sentence came just five days after Italy's World Cup victory and was likely to seriously damage the country's chances of hosting the European Championships in 2012.
Convicted clubs have three days to appeal, with a final decision due by July 25, the day Italy must register its clubs to take part in European events at the ruling body UEFA.
Juventus, which is considered Europe's fourth-richest club, will now miss out on receipts from their Champions League appearances - estimated at around 50 million Swiss francs - as well as lucrative television and sponsorship deals worth hundreds of millions of euros.
Moreover, the 30-points penalty means the Turin club will face a major challenge trying to return to Serie A. Juventus had never before been relegated in their 108-year-old history.
The verdict was also expected to spark an exodus of star players as the relegated clubs will find it difficult to honour their expensive contracts.
Juventus alone had no less than eight players taking part in Sunday's World Cup final, five for Italy and three for France. In all, 13 of the 23 players who formed part of Italy's World Cup squad belonged to clubs involved in the scandal.
Among those tipped to leave are Juve's World Cup captain Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluca Zambrotta and Gianluigi Buffon.
"I hope some of our best players will agree to stay," said Juve's president shortly after the verdict was read out.
Milan will now find it difficult to keep players like Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta and Brazilian ace Kaka while Fiorentina will almost certainly have to sell their top striker, Luca Toni.
Top clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United are all expected to step in with offers.
All of the match-fixing allegations, which revolve around a series of wiretapped conversations involving club managers and referee selectors, date back to the 2004-2005 season.
Moggi and Juve chief executive Antonio Giraudo, who have both resigned over the issue together with the whole club board, were accused of creating a powerful and vast organisation designed to control the selection of referees assigned to the team's matches.
Some politicians had called for an amnesty in view of Italy's World Cup victory, but judges ignored their requests.