Italy awaits verdicts in match-fixing trial

July 14, 2006

ROME, July 14 (Reuters) - Four top Italian soccer clubs and 25 officials are anxiously awaiting verdicts in the Serie A match-fixing trial, which were expected on evening Friday.

Champions Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio, and 25 individuals, including club and federation officials, referees and linesmen, are accused of conspiring to rig matches in the top Serie A division during the 2004/05 season.

Juventus are at the centre of the scandal, which erupted in May when phone taps revealed the club's former general manager Luciano Moggi had discussed refereeing appointments with officials from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).

If found guilty Juventus risk relegation to Italy's third division or lower and being stripped of the Serie A titles they won the last two seasons.

AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio face possible relegation to the second-tier Serie B. Individuals risk bans from the sport.

Italy's World Cup triumph in Germany has prompted calls for a general amnesty, but FIGC commissioner Guido Rossi has consistently rejected the idea.

All those found guilty can appeal, but the appeals process must be completed by July 25 - the deadline set by UEFA for the FIGC to submit the list of teams for next season's Champions League and UEFA Cup competitions.