Juve want reduction of 'devastating' sentence


The lawyer representing Juventus at the appeals trial in Italy's match-fixing scandal pleaded for leniency today, saying that last week's decision by a sports tribunal to relegate the club to the second division with a 30-point penalty would have "devastating consequences".

"Just to survive in Serie B next season we estimate that Juventus will have to earn about 80 points - equivalent to winning 27 of their 40 matches," Cesare Zaccone told the appeal court's panel of five judges.

Juventus were one of four clubs from Italy's top Serie A division found guilty by the tribunal of conspiring with referees and linesmen to rig games during the 2004/05 season.

As well as being sent down to Serie B, the Turin giants were also stripped of their last two Serie A titles.

Zaccone told the court the effects of the sentence were already being felt in the exodus of the club's leading players.

"The career for a footballer is short and some of our best players are world champions," he said.

"None of them wants to risk two years in Serie B or, worse still, relegation to Serie C1 (Italy's third division)."

Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, defenders Gianluca Zambrotta and Lilian Thuram, and Brazilian midfielder Emerson have left since the tribunal announced its guilty verdict last Friday.