Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina relegated to Serie B
A sports tribunal in Rome brought an abrupt end to jubilation over Italys World Cup success on Friday by throwing three of the coun-trys top clubs out of Serie A for match-fixing. The five-man panel resisted calls for lenience and sent Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina into Serie B with points penalties, and allowed Milan to stay in the top flight, but with a hefty penalty. Lazio fans gathered in protest outside the Rome hotel where the sentences were being read. Similarly, in Turin hundreds of Juventus fans gathered near the teams headquarters.
Some 25 individuals who have been accused of sporting fraud and unfair conduct learned their fates also. They include club executives, federation officials, referees and linesman. The tribunal ignored calls for leniency or even a full amnesty, which came from some fans and parts of the political world, especially after Italys triumph in the World Cup. After a record week spent considering verdicts in a room at Romes Olympic stadium, the federation panels chief judge, Cesare Ruperto, finally read out the verdicts.
Juventus, the Turin team whose executives were judged to be at the heart of the scam, came off worst. As well as relegation, the club was told it must start next season with a 30-point penalty. This means the club will remain in Serie B for at least two seasons and be effectively barred from the Champions League for three years. Juve, the grand old lady of Italian soccer, was also stripped of the championship titles it won in 2005 and 2006. Fiorentina and Lazio, also demoted, were given 12 and 7-point penalties, respectively, for next season. Although spared demotion, Milan was docked 44 points from its total last year, meaning that, barring appeals, it will be excluded from the Champions League. In addition it will start next season at 15 points.
The controversial trial focused on alleged attempts by club executives to interfere with the selection of referees and linesmen. According to federation prosecutor Stefano Palazzi, compliant match officials could be relied on to steer matches thanks to apparently minor decisions. He had asked the tribunal to send down Serie A champions Juventus to the third division for the clubs alleged role in the scandal, and to relegate AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina to Serie B. The prosecutor had also called for tough sanctions for club executives and FIGC offi-cials involved in the scandal. (ANSA)