ROME: The Italian football federation rejected a three-month ban for Juventus coach Antonio Conte, throwing out a proposed plea bargain for match-fixing as Italy’s betting scandal widens.
Conte had originally denied allegations of failing to report match-fixing in two games when he was coach of Siena in the 2010-2011 season. He then proposed a deal with prosecutors for a three-month ban, hoping to avoid a jail sentence. A disciplinary committee hearing rejected the attempted deal made with federation prosecutor Stefano Palazzi, leaving Conte facing either a longer ban or a tough sporting trial.
The ruling throws Conte’s return to the Juventus sidelines in November into doubt, leaving the Serie A team in a critical situation.
The 1980 ‘Totonero’ scandal saw AC Milan and Lazio relegated to Serie B while star striker Paolo Rossi was banned for two years. He came back just in time to be Italy’s hero in their 1982 World Cup victory. In 2006, Juve were relegated and stripped of their 2005 and 2006 titles for interfering with the referees’ commission. Just over a month later, Italy won their fourth World Cup.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.