Juventus boss Conte calls suspension a “disgrace”
Emotional Juventus coach Antonio Conte, shouting at the top of his voice in an angry news conference, labelled his 10-month ban for not reporting match-fixing “a disgrace”.
Conte, who led an undefeated Juve to the Serie A title last term in his first season in charge, lost his appeal this week against being found guilty of permitting illegal betting while Siena coach in Serie B.
He was cleared of wrongdoing in one of the two Siena matches probed.
Juve, who have installed assistant Massimo Carrera as temporary coach with the season starting this weekend, are appealing to a higher sports court after failing to overturn the ban at the Italian soccer federation (FIGC).
“I am innocent. It’s a disgrace, it’s a disgrace. I can say that because it is finished with them (FIGC) although there is another appeal,” Conte told reporters at Juve’s training ground outside Turin yesterday.
“I have always respected the laws on and off the field, in this issue I have acted correctly.
“Yesterday was the cherry on the cake. It was something serious, something I have never seen.”
The Siena matches that came under scrutiny for illegal betting were against Novara and Albinoleffe in May 2011. FIGC’s appeals tribunal said on Wednesday that Conte had been acquitted over the Novara game but the 10-month ban should stay for the Albinoleffe affair.
Three Juve lawyers, sat by Conte and assistant Angelo Alessio who has also been banned, launched into long diatribes about the decision not to fully acquit Conte.
They told yesterday’s news conference that evidence used in the case against Conte came from a discredited player who could not be trusted. The FIGC disputes this.
“It’s absurd, it’s absurd. Everything that has happened to me,” Conte continued.
“I have never bet in my life.”
Juve, although not directly involved this time, have a history of having to deal with match-fixing. Italy’s best supported and most successful team domestically were demoted in a 2006 affair and struggled for years before last term’s triumph.
Despite Conte’s ban, Juve remain favourites with Italian bookmakers to retain their title this season after Milan engaged in cost-cutting and Inter endured another difficult campaign last term.