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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Italy awaits appeal verdicts

The four Italian clubs found guilty of match-fixing should learn whether their appeals against their punishments have been successful at 1930 BST.

Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio were all relegated to Serie B and had 30, 12 and seven points deducted respectively. AC Milan were allowed to stay in Serie A, but with a 15-point deduction.

All four clubs were also barred from playing in Europe this season - but the quartet have all appealed against the severity of their punishments. UEFA has extended the deadline for the submission of the names of Italian clubs eligible to take part in the 2006-07 European club competitions until tomorrow morning. European soccer's governing body said on Tuesday it had received a letter from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) asking for an extension of one day from today's original deadline.

The original punishments were handed out to the disgraced clubs by a Rome tribunal just five days after Italy won the World Cup in Germany.

The football federation's appeal court has been listening to the clubs' pleas for leniency at Rome's Parco dei Principi hotel since Saturday. Milan want their European ban to be lifted, while Juve want leniency after their points deduction effectively ruled out any hope of making an immediate return to Serie A next season. Lazio and Fiorentina were also represented at the hearing.

Cesare Zaccone, the solicitor defending Juve, said: "The career for a footballer is short and some of our best players are world champions. None of them wants to risk two years in Serie B or, worse still, relegation to Serie C1."

Juventus may also lose the last two Serie A titles they won, while manager Fabio Capello has joined Real Madrid to be replaced by Didier Deschamps. And Italy's World Cup-winning skipper Fabio Cannavaro and Brazil midfielder Emerson have already left to join to Real Madrid, while Gianluca Zambrotta and Lilian Thuram have moved to Barcelona.

Speculation in the Italian media suggests that points deductions will be reduced, while Lazio and Fiorentina may be put back into the top flight.

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