Final day of appeals trial in Italian match-fixing scandal

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The Independent Online

AC Milan appealed its ban from Champions League play Monday in Italy's match-fixing scandal.

Verdicts by the sports tribunal are expected tomorrow, the deadline set by UEFA for Italian soccer officials to decide which clubs participate in European club competitions this season.

Milan, which escaped demotion from Serie A, is seeking to overturn the July 14 ruling, which barred the club from Europe's top club competition and docked it 15 points.

Milan lawyer Leandro Cantamessa argued that the sanctions were "unlawful, enormous" and "without precedent." He also described Milan member Leonardo Meani, whom prosecutors say had compliant referees assigned to its matches via contacts with federation officials, as a "marginal figure."

Meani's lawyer earlier argued that his client hadn't done anything improper, said ANSA news agency.

Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina were relegated to Serie B. Juventus was stripped of its last two Serie A titles and penalized 30 points; Fiorentina was docked 12-points and Lazio seven.

Also, 19 officials - including Meani - and referees were sanctioned for influencing matches.

Lawyers for Juventus argued Sunday that the team should keep its last two league titles regardless of any wrongdoing. Lazio and Fiorentina have also appealed their punishments.

Soccer federation prosecutor Stefano Palazzi, who argued for tougher sentencing, described "the entire championship" as "distorted," ANSA reported.

Palazzi wants Juventus demoted to Serie C; Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio demoted to Serie B with points to be docked - three for Milan, and 15 each for Lazio and Fiorentina.

Separately, prosecutors in Rome, Naples, Parma and Turin are conducting criminal probes into alleged sports fraud, illegal betting and false bookkeeping. Any indictments could take months.

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