By Andrew Warshaw
September 26 – Having only recently been elected as head of the European Club Association, the reputation of Andrea Agnelli has taken an immediate and somewhat embarrassing turn for the worse with the Juventus boss banned for a year by Italy’s soccer federation (FIGC) for his alleged role in the sale of match tickets to the club’s ultras fans.
Agnelli was also fined €20,000 while Juventus must pay €300,000. Three other club officials were also banned.
Agnelli was accused of helping to sell tickets – later resold at a profit – to ‘ultras’, some of whom allegedly had links to organised crime.
Although he can technically remain as Juve boss, Agnelli cannot represent the club on any official league business or be involved directly in transfer dealings. This throws into question not only his leadership of the ECA but also his newly acquired role as a member of UEFA’s executive committee with full voting rights.
He and the club plan to appeal but so does the federation – for harsher sentences.
Federation prosecutor Giuseppe Pecoraro had requested a two-and-a-half-year suspension for Agnelli plus a fine and an order for Juventus to play two home matches behind closed doors, saying the involvement of the mafia in the alleged ticket touting was “extremely serious”.
“I’m partly satisfied because we’ve been able to prove the guilt of everyone involved, but the findings were so serious that, in my opinion, they should have been punished more, so we’ll appeal,” Pecoraro told AFP. “I think going to another court will be useful, bearing in mind they went to organised crime, and that is very serious.”
Investigators had been looking into whether the club gave tickets to ultras to avoid violence or racial abuse in the stands. Juventus denies any wrongdoing and argues it had always worked with police to ensure public safety and order.
Agnelli admitted in May he met the ‘ultras’ to make sure they did not feel discriminated against, and to avoid “problems of public order”.
“Obviously the sentence disappoints us, even though the charges were revised,” said his lawyer, Franco Coppi.
In a statement Juventus said: “Having taken note of today’s decision by the FIGC’s national tribunal, Juventus announces its appeal to the FIGC Court of Appeal in the full conviction of its own good arguments, which have not been adequate recognised.
“The club expresses its own satisfaction because today’s sentence, even though it inflicted heavy bans on the president and other people involved, has after extensive evaluation of the evidence, excluded all alleged links with representatives of organised crime.”
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