Defence is paramount as former Fabio allies face criminal charges

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The Independent Online

As Fabio Capello was doing some English revision this weekend ahead of his unveiling as England coach tomorrow, the men who were once his closest colleagues were busy preparing their defence against criminal charges.

Capello's links with the former Juventus directors Luciano Moggi and Antonio Giraudo could yet become a source of discomfort for him and the Football Association. He may be called as a witness in one or both of the criminalproceedings arising from the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.

In Naples yesterday, the first of three preliminary hearings took place to determine if Moggi, Giraudo and 35 other people will face the charges requested by the investigating magistrates, FilippoBeatrice and Giuseppe Narducci. The former Juventus men are accused of conspiracy to commit sporting fraud. All the accused protest their innocence.

Moggi faces criminal conspiracy charges in a second case in Rome, which concerns the activities of the now-defunct Gea player agency, which was owned by his son, Alessandro.

The Calciopoli case centres on the alleged match-fixing ring of Juventus directors, referees and Italian FA officials which, magistrates say, was guilty of "a series of specific acts of sporting fraud designed to predetermine the results of matches in the 2004-05 Serie A season". It was the first of two consecutive league titles Juventus won under Capello.

After being found guilty by an Italian FA tribunal last year, Juve were stripped of the 2004-05 and 2005-06 titles and relegated to Serie B. Moggi and Giraudo were banned from football for five years. Capello is under no suspicion and has never been implicated in the scandal, but rival fans were quick to ask how such an acute man could have been unaware of what was going on.

In his book A Kick in the Heart: My Truth about Calciopoli, Moggi counts Capello as one of his true friends. He first met Capello when he was sporting director of Roma in the 1960s and Capello was a player there. Years later, when Moggi was at Torino and Capellowas working for Silvio Berlusconi's Fininvest company, Moggi remembered his friend.

"I wanted to make him Torino coach when he was still working at Fininvest and looking after the youth set-up at Milan. He refused my offer because he wanted to continue studying management," Moggi said. He eventually got his man in 2004 when Marcello Lippi quit as the Juventus coach.

Capello's record over the two contested seasons reads: 76 league games, 53 wins, 18 draws, five defeats. "His two years at Juventus were perfect," Moggi said. "People question his playing style but Capello knows only one word: winning. Away from football I discovered that he was a delightful person, polite and refined."

After Juve were stripped of their two league titles, Capello was said to have been so furious that he vowed never to work in Italian football again, immediately leaving to coach Real Madrid. If he sees out his contract with England, he will have got his wish.

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