Wed, Nov 22, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Fraud investigation into player market concludes

DPA , MILAN

Marcello Lippi, former Italian national soccer coach, smokes a cigar in Berlin on Sept. 11 during a coaches' conference.

PHOTO: EPA

Public prosecutors have completed their investigation into an alleged scheme to control the market for soccer players by a group of eight agents through violence and intimidation, ANSA reported on Monday.

Rome prosecutors Maria Cristina Palaia and Luca Palamara are said to be ready to press charges against former Juventus manager Luciano Moggi, his son Alessandro and other players' agents of the GEA World company.

Also involved in the probe is Davide Lippi, an agent and son of former national coach Marcello Lippi, and Luciano Gaucci, the former owner of Perugia, who has been investigated for unfair competition.

Criticism

The probe was launched years ago following criticism of GEA's methods by Franco Dal Cin, then owner of Venezia, and Ermanno Pieroni, who owned Ancona.

Several soccer players, including Juventus striker David Trezeguet, were heard by prosecutors during the probe.

Luciano Moggi has already been sentenced to a five year ban in a sports trial held in the summer for his ringleader role in a wide match-fixing scheme. Sports judges sentenced other club managers and relegated Juventus to the Serie B with a point penalty, stripping them of the titles won in the past two seasons.

Also involved in the scandal were AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina, who received varying point penalties.

Monopoly

GEA, which is now disbanded, appears to have controlled the players' market for years, forcing players to be assisted by its agents and building a virtual monopoly in the soccer player market.

The defendants have 20 days to view and reply to the evidence gathered by prosecutors, who could then file charges before a penal court.

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