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Scandal trial resumes after Italy reach Cup final

Written by: Staff
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ROME, July 5 (Reuters) Italy's biggest sporting trial resumed today with champions Juventus battling to avoid relegation to the third division and three other top clubs fighting to stay in Serie A.

Italian Football Federation (FIGC) prosecutor Stefano Palazzi requested yesterday that the tribunal send Juventus down to the third division and strip them of the league titles they won in the last two seasons.

He also requested that AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina be despatched to Italy's second division, Serie B.

The prosecutor's demands, which cast a shadow over Italy's 2-0 win over Germany in the World Cup semifinal a few hours later, were more severe than expected.

''Juve shock: they risk Serie C,'' ran a headline on the front page of sports daily Tuttosport today.

''We knew it would not be a bed of roses, but the reality has surpassed the imagination,'' commented La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Juve are at the centre of the trial after phone taps revealed the club's former general manager Luciano Moggi discussing referee appointments with senior FIGC officials. Palazzi said Juventus should be relegated to ''below Serie B''.

Today the defendants will speak, followed by Palazzi, who will respond to their arguments. Lawyers representing the accused will then launch their defences.

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 and the appeals process must be finished by July 27 -- the deadline set by European soccer's ruling body for the FIGC to submit the list of teams for next season's Champions League and UEFA Cup competition.

REUTERS PDS SSC1414

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