Soccer: Juve boss Conte faces match-fixing charge
Coach suspected of failing to inform authorities of agreements26 July, 16:06
(ANSA) - Rome, July 26 - Juventus coach Antonio Conte was among a number of people to be charged with match-fixing offences by Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) prosecutors on Thursday along with five Serie A clubs.
The sporting charges come after revelations made by two big criminal probes into betting-related match-fixing in Cremona and Bari.
Conte, who led Turin side Juve to the Italian championship last season, is suspected of having known about agreements to fix two matches when he was in charge of Siena in the 2010-11 campaign and failing to inform the authorities.
Juventus winger Simone Pepe was also charged with failing to inform the authorities of plans to fix matches when he played for Udinese between 2007 and 2010.
Former Italy forward Marco Di Vaio, now with Montreal Impact, will face the same charge at hearings set to start early in August for alleged wrongdoing during his 2008-12 stint at Bologna.
Italy and Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, meanwhile, has been charged with the more serious offense of sporting fraud for alleged wrongdoing during his time at former club Bari.
Atalanta defender Andrea Masiello, who admitted deliberately scoring an own goal to ensure his former side Bari lost 2-0 to Lecce in the 2010-11 campaign, when they were relegated to Serie B, faces the same charge.
A lawyer representing Conte did not rule out reaching a punishment deal with FIGC prosecutors on Thursday and said it was positive that Conte was not charged with the more serious offence of sporting fraud. "Now the scenario is completely different as the charges are less serious," Antonio De Rensis told ANSA. "A lawyer should never exclude anything. But it's one thing to agree to a deal in a trial where the burden of proof is on the prosecution, it's another when it's on the defence, as at a sporting trial. "Now we'll assess which path to take, bearing in mind that this first step (regarding the charges) is undoubtedly positive". Juve, who extended Conte's contract by three years in May, recently said they had no plan B for the eventuality the coach would be banned as they are confident he is innocent.
The former Italy midfielder, who played for Juve during a highly successful stint between 1991 and 2004, risks a six-month ban or a big fine, according to media reports.
Four members of Conte's backroom staff have also been charged.
The Serie A clubs involved are Udinese, Bologna, Sampdoria, Siena and Torino. They have been charged for indirect responsibility for their players' involvement in match-fixing. A number of lower league clubs, including Serie B Bari, will face the same charges. Lecce, who were relegated from the top flight last season, were charged with having direct responsibility for match-fixing as were second-tier side Grosseto.
Over 40 people have been arrested since the Cremona-based 'Last Bet' probe went public last year.
They include Lazio midfielder Stefano Mauri and former Italy internationals Beppe Signori and Cristiano Doni.
Italy's sporting justice system has already given out punishments related to the match-fixing at previous rounds of hearings. Signori and Doni are among a raft of people to have been banned from soccer and Bergamo-based Atalanta had six points deducted at the start of last season and will start the 2012-13 campaign at -2.
The new case has rocked the Italian soccer world again after Juventus were relegated and stripped of two Serie A titles in 2006 for involvement in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal about attempts to arrange compliant referees for some teams' games.