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Soccer: Napoli docked two points for attempted Samp 'fix'

Paolo Cannavaro, Gianluca Grava banned for six months

Soccer: Napoli docked two points for attempted Samp 'fix'

Rome, December 18 - An Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) tribunal on Tuesday docked Napoli two Serie A points for their players' alleged involvement in an attempt to fix a match against Sampdoria in 2010. Napoli defenders Paolo Cannavaro, the brother of Italy's retired 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, and Gianluca Grava were banned for six months for failing to report the attempted fix to the authorities. Former back-up Napoli goalkeeper Matteo Gianello was banned for three years and three months for the more serious charge of sporting fraud. The loss of Cannavaro for the rest of the season - Grava has not featured so far this season - and the points deduction represent a massive blow to Napoli's Serie A title hopes. It takes the Naples side down from joint-third to fifth in the Serie A standings with 31 points from 17 games, 10 points behind leaders Juventus. Napoli - who have been punished for indirect responsibility for their players' actions, not direct involvement in match-fixing - issued a statement saying it was not right to alter the standings in this way in the middle of the championship. The club's lawyer said it may take legal action to obtain damages. "(The possibility of legal action) should not be excluded, on the contrary, I think it will be taken into consideration," lawyer Mattia Grassani told Italian radio. "Napoli has suffered damage in terms of its assets, its image and its sporting fortunes. "The club is paying for the behaviour of an ex-player like Matteo Gianello, who didn't even play one minute in the 2009-2010 season. "We respond to the decision with great dismay, unease and protest. It's an unjust sentence". Gaetano Fedele, an agent representing Cannavaro and Grava, said the players were innocent. He added that it was unfair that the pair had been convicted on the basis of contested testimony Gianello that they knew about the attempted fix. "You need proof and there's isn't any because Gianello has given conflicting statements," Fedele said. Sampdoria won the match in question, which took place on May 16 2010 1-0, and qualified for the preliminaries of the Champions League of the 2010-11 season. FIGC Prosecutor Stefano Palazzi had requested longer bans of nine months for Cannavaro and Grava. The tribunal gave Napoli a harsher punishment than the one-point penalty Palazzi had requested. It said this was to be consistent with other recent match-fixing punishments it has given. The sporting trial stems from a series of criminal probes into betting-related match-fixing in Serie A and lower levels of Italian football. Over 40 people have been arrested since the Cremona-based 'Last Bet' criminal probe went public last year, leading sporting prosecutors to look at the case. They include Lazio midfielder Stefano Mauri and former Italy internationals Beppe Signori and Cristiano Doni. Four Serie A sides started this season with points deducted because of their players' involvement - Siena (-6), Atalanta (-2), Torino (-1) and Sampdoria (-1). Earlier in December Juventus boss Antonio Conte finished serving a four-month ban for failing to report a deal to fix a match during his time at former club Siena. In October former Bari defender Andrea Masiello was given a suspended 22-month prison sentence after a plea bargain with criminal prosecutors. Masiello, who had already been banned from soccer by a sporting tribunal, admitted to deliberately scoring an own goal to ensure Bari lost 2-0 to Lecce in the 2010-11 campaign, when they were relegated to Serie B. A Bari court found the 26-year-old guilty of criminal association and sporting fraud regarding the fixing of four matches. The new case has rocked the Italian soccer world again after Juventus were relegated and stripped of two Serie A titles for involvement in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal in 2006. That scandal regarded schemes to have compliant referees officiate some teams' matches.

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