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Juventus lawyer seeks lighter punishment - papers

Written by: Staff
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ROME, July 6 (Reuters) Juventus believe relegation to Italy's second division could be an acceptable punishment in an alleged match-fixing scandal which has rocked the country's soccer establishment, newspapers reported today.

Juventus lawyer Cesare Zaccone was quoted as saying that, if the club were found guilty, ''an acceptable punishment could be that of the other clubs, in other words (relegation to) the second division with points deducted''.

A prosecutor has charged Juventus and three other clubs with sporting fraud and has recommended the Serie A champions be sent down to at least the third division while AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio be demoted to the second division.

Zaccone was speaking on Wednesday during a hearing at a special sports tribunal to look into claims that the clubs, their management, Italian football officials and referees were involved in a scheme to influence the outcome of matches.

The clubs and the individuals accused have denied the match-fixing claims.

Zaccone began his address to the tribunal on Wednesday by saying the club should not be held responsible for the actions of their former management, who stepped down when the scandal emerged.

The sports tribunal will not hand out penal sentences but a separate magistrates' investigation in Naples has yet to decide whether to press criminal charges against some of the accused.

The scandal erupted in early May with the publication of intercepted telephone conversations between former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi and Italian Football Association officials, discussing refereeing appointments in the 2004-05 season.

The tribunal has said it aims to deliver its verdicts on Monday, the day after the World Cup final between Italy and France in Berlin.

REUTERS PM VC1412

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