By ANDREW DAMPF
AP Sports Writer
ROME (AP) — Italy’s most storied soccer club, Juventus, was hit with a massive 15-point penalty for false accounting Friday following an appeal hearing at the Italian soccer federation.
The punishment could eliminate the club’s chances of playing in Europe next season. A record 36-time Italian champion, Juventus was third in Serie A and the penalty drops the Bianconeri into the bottom half of the standings — 25 points behind leader Napoli and 12 points from the Champions League places.
Juventus said it will appeal the decision to Italy’s highest sports court within the Italian Olympic Committee.
Also, former Juventus president Andrea Agnelli and former club CEO Maurizio Arrivabene were each banned for two years from soccer activities and more bans were handed out for nine other members of Juve’s staff or former board, which resigned en masse in November following an investigation by Turin public prosecutors into alleged false bookkeeping.
The longest ban of 2 ½ years was handed out to former Juventus sporting director and current Tottenham managing director Fabio Paratici, while current Juventus sporting director Federico Cherubini was given 16 months and former Juventus player turned board member Pavel Nedved was given eight months.
The bans prohibit those individuals from engaging in soccer activities in Italy, “with the request that the ban be extended to UEFA and FIFA activities.”
Juventus has denied wrongdoing and was initially cleared by the sports court in April. But an appeal was made after the federation collected papers from the Turin prosecutors.
Federation prosecutor Giuseppe Chiné had requested a nine-point penalty for Juventus earlier Friday.
Gianluca Ferrero was appointed Juventus’ new president on Wednesday, presiding over a smaller five-person board of directors. Also Wednesday, Agnelli announced that he was stepping down from all of his positions within the family businesses, including carmaker Stellantis, which controls FIAT, as well as the Exor holding company.
Agnelli was also one of the architects of the failed European Super League project.
The penalty comes 17 years after the “Calciopoli” refereeing scandal that saw Juventus demoted to Serie B and stripped of two Serie A titles.
Fines were requested for eight other clubs: Sampdoria, Pro Vercelli, Genoa, Parma, Pisa, Empoli, Pescara and Novara. But all eight other clubs were cleared.
Juventus was already eliminated from the Champions League in a horrible start to this season, which also saw it win only two of its opening nine Serie A matches. The club had since bounced back to climb into the top four.
Juventus could face further penalties from UEFA, which also opened an inquiry into the club’s finances after the Turin prosecutor’s office requested indictments for Agnelli and 10 other former board members as well as the club itself.
Juventus is listed on the Milan stock exchange, which also opens it to regulatory scrutiny by the CONSOB watchdog.
At the start of the pandemic, Juventus said 23 players agreed to reduce their salary for four months to help the club through the crisis. But prosecutors claim the players gave up only one month’s salary.
Turin prosecutors have also apparently discovered more alleged secret payments to former player Cristiano Ronaldo that were not reported by Juventus.
In September, Juventus reported a record loss of 254.3 million euros ($276 million) for the 2021-22 financial year. It was the fifth consecutive year that Juventus reported a loss, and it was 44.4 million euros ($48 million) more than in 2020-21.
A preliminary hearing for the investigation by Turin prosecturs is scheduled for March.
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