Conte sure ban will be overturned


Soccer:Antonio Conte is confident his 10-month suspension will be overturned in time for him to take charge of Juventus at the start of the Serie A season. Conte and his assistant Angelo Alessio received lengthy bans from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) for allegedly failing to report two incidents of match-fixing while in charge of Siena.

Technical director Massimo Carrera has assumed control of first-team affairs but after appearing in court to appeal the verdict yesterday, Conte believes he will be back at the helm as the Italian champions begin their title defence against Parma on Saturday.

In an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport, he said: “If I was offered just a three-month ban today, my answer would be no.

“I fully agree with the judges that a 90-day suspension would not be a fair punishment because the right amount of days should be zero. I didn’t do anything wrong, or neglect to report what I knew.

“I’m convinced (the judges) will weigh up the evidence and, with due diligence, avoid any injustice. I have a clear conscience, but I cannot say the same about those who threw mud at me.

“My presence in the courtroom was a show of respect. I’ve taken this process seriously and listened carefully to my lawyers. Therefore I’m staying calm and I’m confident that I’ll be on the bench for our game against Parma.”

Conte’s legal team, comprising lawyers Giulia Bongiorno, Antonio De Rensis and Luigi Chiappero, sought to discredit key witness Filippo Carobbio during yesterday’s appeal hearing. The former Siena defender accused Conte of being involved in match-fixing while the pair worked together at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Conte added: “Carobbio continued to change his statement like a chameleon, tailored to what (prosecutor Stefano) Palazzi wanted to hear. He changed his story one last time, coincidentally three days before my initial hearing.”

Carobbio alleged Conte instructed his squad to try to fix games against Novara and Albinoleffe during his pre-match team-talks.

He added: “Would I have been so stupid to leave myself open to blackmail from 25 players? The same Carobbio refers to my speech as ‘intense and highly motivating’. And after motivating them all, he reckons I said ‘anyway, let’s fix this’. What planet is he on?

“You have to understand my relationship with the team, I’m not friends with the players and the roles are separate. They are always in awe of me. It’s an intense relationship but with a functional goal.

“Off the pitch everybody has their own life. That’s why this kind of thing would never reach me and that’s how it will always be.”

The outcome of Conte’s appeal is expected to be announced tomorrow.

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