Juventus will begin their title defence on Saturday without manager Antonio Conte, after a 10 month ban for failing to report match fixing during the manager’s tenure at Siena was upheld by the Italian Football Federation.
Today, Conte hit back at the charges, lamenting the damage that’s been done to both Juventus and him personally:
“They judged Pippo Carobbio, who they painted as my best friend, as a reliable and credible person, while the Federal Prosecutor has deemed me not credible,” the former midfielder added. “What the Federal Prosecutor said is chilling. I consider a plea bargain blackmail. I’m an innocent person, yet I’m told by my lawyer to plea bargain. It’s embarrassing. They have ruined my credibility in the changing room. Those people who know me know what type of person Antonio Conte is. I’m used to winning on the field of play. It’s all absurd. Everyone needs to understand what has been done to me because it is embarrassing.”
Strong words. Carobbio named names after been charged with match fixing himself. Conte’s lawyers state that when Carobbio was first questioned on January 19th 2012, he did not implicate Conte in the scandal. It was only when brought before a federal court one month later when the former Siena player ‘remembered’ Conte’s words during a team meeting in which he is accused of saying there were ‘agreed results’ with Novara and Albinoleffe.
So the Italian courts have based their findings on Conte off of the accusations of a man who has been found guilty of participating in various match fixing schemes throughout the years. A person who took a plea deal that was contingent on testimony that smeared Conte. Of the 25 men in the dressing room that day in late May 2011, Carobbio is the only person to remember Conte’s vague statement regarding agreed results.
The Juventus boss has one appeal left. This scandal carries the stench of an unfair result. Will the Italian courts continue to take the word of one man over 25 others? At this point, any decision involving match fixing and the Italian court system would not be surprising.