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Soccer: Juventus coach Conte given 10-month ban

Bonucci, Pepe cleared of match-fixing

Soccer: Juventus coach Conte given 10-month ban

(ANSA) - Rome, August 10 - Juventus coach Antonio Conte was banned for 10 months on Friday for a match-fixing offence by an Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) disciplinary panel. Conte, who led Juve to the Serie A title last season, was found guilty of failing to report agreements to fix the results of two matches when he was in charge of Siena in the second tier in the 2010-11 campaign. However, Juve's Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci and his club teammate Simone Pepe were cleared of the match-fixing charges against them. The panel's decision means Conte will not be able to be on the bench for Juve's Super Cup match against Italian Cup winners Napoli in Beijing on Saturday. And they will have to find a new coach for the upcoming campaign unless the decision is overturned on appeal. FIGC prosecutor Stefano Palazzi had requested a ban of three and a half years for Bonucci and one year for Pepe for alleged wrongdoing committed at their respective former clubs, Bari and Udinese. Bonucci was suspected of involvement in an agreement to fix a match between Udinese and Bari in May 2010, while Pepe was suspected of having known about it and not informed the authorities. Palazzi had requested that Conte be banned for 15 months after the disciplinary panel rejected a deal he had reached with the coach for him to accept a three-month ban and a 200,000-euro fine to close the charges against him. Conte's assistant Angelo Alessio was given an eight-month ban on Friday after Palazzi had requested that he too be suspended for 15 months. Juventus said they were backing Conte, who led the Turin side to the Serie A title last season, and Alessio. Juve said in a statement that they gave "full support to Antonio Conte and Angelo Alessio in the hope that the next levels of judgement will make it possible for their innocence to fully emerge". The club also expressed "great satisfaction for the acquittal of its players Leonardo Bonucci and Simone Pepe". Bonucci voiced relief at the decision. "For now I will say only that the recognition of my innocence has given me great strength," the defender said via telephone. "I am also very happy because I have discovered that a lot of people care about me. "Right now I am focused on the challenge against Napoli. My heartfelt thanks go to all those who have stood by me and believed in me". Udinese were cleared of having indirect responsibility for their players' wrongdoing, while Bologna were given only a 30,000-euro fine, after Palazzi had requested the team be docked two points at the start of next season. Bologna's ex-captain Marco Di Vaio, a former Italy forward who is now with Montreal Impact, and defender Daniele Portanova were cleared of the charges against them. Lecce, who were relegated from Serie A last season, and Grossetto were both demoted from the second to the third tier and given six-point and three-point penalties respectively. The verdicts were the result of the latest of a series of sporting disciplinary hearings after revelations made by two big criminal probes in Cremona and Bari into betting-related match-fixing. Siena, who are now in the top flight, Serie A, thanks to Conte, were docked six points and Torino and Sampdoria were given one-point penalties at previous hearings. Bergamo-based Atalanta had six points deducted at the start of last season and will start the 2012-13 campaign at -2. Ex-Bari defender Andrea Masiello was given a 26-month ban after he 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. 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. 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.

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