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Italian Clubs Begin Appeals Process Saturday

As expected, the four Italian teams found guilty of match-fixing will begin an appeals process on Saturday. On July 14, a sports tribunal found Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio guilty of conspiring with match officials to rig matches in the 2004-05 season. As a result, these teams have been relegated to Serie B and deducted a different number of points each to begin next season. AC Milan is the fourth club found guilty of violations, but it managed to avoid relegation from Serie A. It will, however, begin next season with a 15-point deduction and was thrown out of European competition like the other teams. In the wake of the appeals announcement, Piero Sandulli, chair of the federal court presiding over the case, defended the tribunal's decision. "I don't agree with those who argue that during the sports tribunal there were limitations in the defense rights. We are in a judicial situation that the clubs accepted and agreed to in the moment they signed up [to be part of the Italian soccer federation]," he said. Apparently, witnesses and video evidence were prohibited by the sports tribunal, which opened on June 29 and delivered its verdict on July 14. While the appeals process is expected to move faster, it's unlikely to finish by July 25, the deadline for teams to register with their soccer federation for the UEFA Champions League. In that case, Juve, Fiorentina and Milan will be replaced by Roma, Palermo and Chievo Verona.

Read the whole story at Reuters UK »

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