Wed, Aug 23, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Matarrese says season will kickoff on schedule

AFP , ROME

Juventus' lawyer Cesare Zaccone reacts to reporters after leaving a board meeting in Turin, northern Italy, on Monday.

PHOTO: AP

Italian soccer league (Lega-Calcio) president Antonio Matarrese insisted on Monday the new season will kick-off on time, regardless of Juventus' appeal in the civil courts against their punishment for match-fixing.

Juventus, who have been demoted to the second division for sporting fraud but are demanding they be reinstated to Serie A, are to take their case up with the Regional Administrative Court (TAR).

Their case is expected to be heard on Sept. 5 or Sept. 6, just days before the new season.

"For us, the new season starts on the 9th and 10th of September," Matarrese said. "We cannot predict what will happen [with Juventus]. We have fixed the dates."

The new fixture list will be announced by Lega-Calcio, who oversee the affairs of Serie A and Serie B, next Wednesday.

"We have fixed the program," Matarrese added. "We have to respect the others, just as we respect Juventus. There's nothing more we can do."

Earlier on Monday, Juventus, who were stripped of last season's Serie A title by the Italian soccer federation (FIGC) and demoted to Serie B with a 17-point deficit, confirmed they would be taking their case to the TAR.

Three days ago Juve's appeal to CONI, Italian's Olympic Committee which oversees the activities of all the various Italian sports federations, including the FIGC, was unsuccessful.

The TAR has the authority to overrule decisions made by sports bodies, but in the past have been reluctant to interfere in sports matters.

Juventus are incensed about their punishment because the four other clubs found guilty of match-fixing -- AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina -- were all allowed to retain their status in the top flight.

"The sanctions imposed on Juventus are disproportionate," the club said in a statement. "It's incomprehensible that Juventus should be treated with the most severity."

Juventus said consideration should be given to the contribution the club has made to Italy's rich soccer history.

"The exclusion of Juve from the top division has gravely damaged the identity of a club which has in the past century helped write the history of Italian football," the statement said.

"A club with an excellent tradition, always alive and real, a spirit shown by the nine Juventus players in the teams that played in the World Cup final," the club said.

Italy beat France in last month's final after a penalty shoot-out.

The match-fixing scandal broke in May after transcripts of the then Juve general manager Luciano Moggi telling the head of Italy's referees association which officials to appoint to specific Juventus games were published in Italian newspapers.

Moggi used his power and influence as the key figure at Italy's most successful club to assert control of the pool of referees and high-ranked FIGC officials.

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