Fri, Jun 22, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Inter Milan could lose title due to false bookkeeping

DPA AND AP , ROME

Italian champions Inter Milan face sanctions which could include the stripping of a title in an investigation on false bookkeeping, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported yesterday.

Milan public prosecutor Carlo Nocerino has closed his probe into the club's annual budgets relating to the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons and is about to press fraud charges against Inter president Massimo Moratti and two of his managers, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported yesterday.

Nocerino believes that Inter overvalued some players in order to balance their budgets, which is a fraud against the shareholders and COVISOC, the financial commission of the Italian soccer federation.

COVISOC is in charge of ensuring that the budgets of clubs are balanced before the start the season. Sports justice, which has also looked into the affair, can punish clubs for providing false budgets with fines, point penalties, relegation, or the stripping of a title.

Last summer, Inter were awarded the 2005-2006 title, which was stripped from Juventus for their role in a match-fixing affair, but Nocerino's investigation could prove that Inter's participation to that season was irregular.

Moratti said that Inter "are not worried. For sure, this casts a shadow on our image, but soon we will get rid of it. We have not even given our deposition yet."

Prosecutors have also investigated European champions AC Milan as their budgets allegedly appeared to be irregular in 2003 and 2004.

COVISOC, the regulator for Italian soccer, reported that Serie A champion Inter would not have cleared the annual parameters required for all clubs for the 2005-2006 season if it had reported its books accurately.

Inter released a statement denying it made any false reports and Moratti called the investigation "absurd."

"We are absolutely not considering giving up the 2005-06 title, because it was fairly assigned to us," Inter president Massimo Moratti said. "And that would almost seem like an admission of guilt."

"I pay billions every day," Moratti said. "I normally don't make any bookkeeping errors, although it is true that the worth of players in this market is difficult to understand. A player that is worth five [million US dollars] today could be worth 12 within a month, and then maybe nothing."

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