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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Capello remains calm over tax fraud probe

England manager Fabio Capello has offered the Football Association the greatest assurance possible he will come through an in-depth tax investigation by the Italian authorities with his reputation unscathed.

Payments made to the England coach during his time at Juventus between 2004 and 2006 are being analysed as part of a wide-ranging investigation into the finances of major figures in Italy.

Confirmation of the investigation sparked immediate fears of Capello, who has yet to complete a fortnight as Steve McClaren's successor, being dragged into a major scandal, causing huge embarrassment for the FA.

Instead, Soho Square officials are relaxed about the matter, accepting at face value comments from the 61-year-old that he has nothing to fear.

'With my advisors, I have always endeavoured to conduct my financial business with integrity,' said Capello.

'I have assured the Football Association today that my finances are in order and that I am not aware of any matters which would be of concern.

'I understand that these inquiries in Italy are part of a wider investigation into the finances of many high-profile individuals.'

Senior sources within the Capello camp have pledged to do everything they can to make the investigators' job easier.

They have also pointed out that while Capello spends a lot of his time in Switzerland, he has at no stage been resident in the country for tax purposes.

Given the Capello family have known about the investigation for a while now, there seems no likelihood of his focus being deflected away from his first game in charge, against Switzerland on February 6.

Having negotiated a satisfying World Cup qualifying campaign in Zagreb on Monday, Capello is now finalising arrangements for two friendlies in May - one of which will be at Wembley, possibly against Scotland - as well as potential opponents for a game on August 20.

That will be the final outing England will have before they tackle Andorra and major Group Six rivals Croatia at the start of their bid to reach the 2010 finals in South Africa.

Capello is also taking the opportunity to watch as many potential selection choices as possible ahead of his first squad announcement, which will almost certainly be made at the start of next month.

The FA have confirmed England will wear black armbands during the Switzerland encounter, which takes place exactly 50 years after the Munich air crash.

Pictures of the eight Manchester United players killed will also be portrayed on the big screens at Wembley, although there are no plans to hold a minute's silence even though there were four England internationals among the victims, including Duncan Edwards - at the time the youngest player to represent the Three Lions and widely regarded as one of the finest players to have ever done so.

However, the FA are angrily denying suggestions the move was due to fears England fans would fail to observe the silence.

'The FA has been liaising closely with Manchester United over the appropriate arrangements to mark the Munich anniversary at Wembley on February 6,' added the spokesman.

'It has been agreed that images of the Busby Babes will be shown on the large screens before the game and the England players will wear black armbands during the match.

'Both the FA and the club are happy with the mark of respect we are showing and feel it is appropriate.'

And, in a further development on the Munich issue, the FA have confirmed they will not ask United to postpone the derby clash against Manchester City on February 10 - which will provide the centre-piece of the Red Devils tribute - if their FA Cup fourth round tie against Tottenham requires a replay.

The official replay dates are February 6 and 11 but it would be impossible to hold such a fixture on either as both United and Tottenham players will be required for international duty for the first, while Spurs have a UEFA Cup tie against Slavia Prague on February 14.

It leaves the FA with little alternative other than to sanction a weekend replay but rather than disrupt United's plans for the Munich commemoration, it is envisaged if a second game at White Hart Lane is needed, it would take place on February 17, the weekend set aside for the fifth round.




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