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Italy prosecutor wants Juve relegated

Written by: Staff

ROME, July 4 (Reuters) The prosecutor in Italy's match-fixing trial told a sports tribunal today he wanted four top clubs thrown out of Italian soccer's top league and champions Juventus relegated to at least the third division.

On the third day of Italy's biggest sporting trial, Stefano Palazzi called for Juventus to be stripped of the Serie A titles it won in the last two seasons and relegated to ''below Serie B''.

AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio should all go down to Serie B, he said.

The prospect of Italy's most successful team plummeting into the also-rans of soccer sent a shiver through investors.

The Milan stock exchange suspended Juve's shares and the stock was indicated down 13.63 percent at 1.16 euros at 1600 hrs IST.

The national squad, which contains five Juventus players, play World Cup hosts Germany in the semi-final in Dortmund at 9.00 p.m. 0030hrs IST.

After two days of procedural wrangling, the sports trial began in earnest today with some of the 26 defendants -- club officials, football federation staff, referees and linesmen -- personally pleading their case at Rome's Olympic stadium.

Former Juve chief executive Antonio Giraudo was one of the first to speak.

''All kinds of things go on in football: people give Rolexes to referees, people fix the accounts. What I'm saying is that this is an environment in which you have to protect yourself,'' he said.

Palazzi asked for Giraudo to be handed a five-year ban plus a 5,000 euro (6,000 dollars) fine for every instance of sporting fraud.

He asked for the same punishment for Luciano Moggi, Juve's former general manager, for brothers Diego and Andrea Della Valle, the owner and president of Fiorentina, and for Claudio Lotito, the chairman of Lazio.

He also asked for all four teams to have points docked at the start of next season.

The trial began last Thursday but was quickly adjourned.

Proceedings resumed yesterday but that day was also taken up with objections from defence lawyers and no defendants or witnesses were questioned.

The tribunal has said it aims to deliver its verdicts on July 10, the day after the World Cup final in Berlin.

All the accused have denied wrongdoing.

Those found guilty can appeal, but the appeals process must be finished by July 27 -- the deadline set by UEFA for the FIGC to submit the list of teams for next season's Champions League and UEFA Cup competition.


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