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SERIE A

Italy sports authority scraps 15-point penalty for Juventus, orders new trial

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Juventus appeal 15-point deduction at Italy's highest sports court - Rome, Italy - April 19, 2023 Juventus president Gianluca Ferrero arrives at the court before the hearing REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

Italy’s top sports body on Thursday cancelled a decision to dock Serie A club Juventus (JUVE.MI) 15 points in a case centred on the club’s transfer dealings, ordering soccer authorities to hold a new hearing.

With eight games left to play, the decision will lift Juventus from seventh to third in the Serie A table with 59 points, still 16 behind leaders Napoli but back in the qualifying spots for the lucrative European Champions League.

The ruling by Italy’s Sports Guarantee Board came after Juventus, the most successful soccer club in Italy, appealed against a sentence that Italy’s soccer court issued in January as it looked at the way the club and a number of other teams dealt with player exchange deals.

The soccer court had also imposed bans from holding office in Italian soccer on 11 past and present Juventus directors, including former Chairman Andrea Agnelli, a prominent member of the family controlling Juventus through their investment company Exor (EXOR.AS).

Partially accepting the Juventus appeal, the Sports Guarantee Board did not clear the club of wrongdoing but ruled that a soccer court made up of different judges should now hold new proceedings against Juventus and some of the directors and come up with a more appropriate punishment.

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The sports authority confirmed the bans for four of the 11 directors, including Agnelli and current Tottenham Hotspur managing director Fabio Paratici.

Juventus Chief Football Officer Francesco Calvo said the club welcomed the decision’s effect on the Serie A table as it provided a degree of certainty to Juventus and the other sides battling for a spot in next year’s European Champions League.

“As of today, we finally have certainty and we expect that the points that have been given back to us will remain with us forever,” Calvo added, speaking before the Italian club’s Europa league clash against Sporting Lisbon.

However, Juventus also face potential sporting penalties, including points deductions, in a separate case that Italy’s football association (FIGC) is conducting over alleged irregularities in the club’s payments to players.

FIGC wrapped up investigations last week and is expected to decide whether the club should face another soccer tribunal.

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Inquiries by sport authorities were triggered by investigations by criminal prosecutors in Turin, where the club is based, in a case regarding alleged false accounting.

A criminal court hearing to decide whether to order a trial for Andrea Agnelli, 11 other people and the club itself started last month.

Juventus have denied wrongdoing and said their accounting is in line with industry standards.

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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SERIE A

Ademola Lookman wins Atalanta’s ‘Player of The Season Award

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Nigeria’s Super Eagles winger and silver medal winner with the country at the last AFCON 2023 tournament in Cote D’Ivoire, Ademola Lookman, has emerged as the Atalanta Player of the Season.

The pint-size forward has won the converted award Back-to-back with the Bergamo-based side after his exploit in the domestic and European matches for the side.

Atalanta qualified for two finals with the Nigerian International playing an active role in the campaign.

He was instrumental to Atalanta winning the UEFA Europa League beating Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in the final with the Nigerian scoring all the goals.

The club announced on its official website on Thursday saying, “It’s him again, Ademola Lookman! The reigning champion defends his title and is crowned straight-a student for the second year in a row after staving off an unsparing competition, to the point of both bringing the contest to an overtime runoff and stepping the pose down up to the Instagram profile after the regular session ended in a tie. Kudos to Mola for his back-to-back Player of the Season!” it noted.
It went further that,” building on his 17 goals and 11 key passes in all competitions (making him the team’s second-best seasonal scorer and wingman) and with the hat-trick scored in the magical Dublin final as his main leg-up, Lookman tips the ItalianOptic branded crown once again,” the web remarked.

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Aside from Ademola, the second and third-best positions were also announced as the midfield duo of Jose dos Santo Éderson and Teun Koopmeiners.

The Nigerian had a brilliant AFCON experience with Nigeria where he scored three goals and his exploits so far have put him in strong contention to win the next ‘African Footballer of the Year’ award which will come up before the end of the year at a venue yet to be announced by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen is the reigning winner of the award alongside Asissat Oshoola who retained the version.

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Napoli reduces Victor Osimhen’s value

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Former Serie A champions Napoli are reportedly ready to drop their asking price for Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen as his future grows ever more uncertain.

The 25-year-old is looking for a move away from Serie A but Napoli’s initial €150M release clause has warned off any potential suitors.

Quoting from another Italian outlet, Calciomercato, Getfootballnewsitaly reports that Napoli are ready to lower the initial valuation to €100M, in the hope that they can free up much needed transfer funds for new boss Antonio Conte, who is understood to be desperate to land Belgian international striker Romelu Lukaku this summer.

It is also stated that the English Premier League sides, Chelsea who were understood to be in pole-position to sign the Nigerian international, has never opened any negotiation with the 2023 Serie A champions.

The only avenues open at this time seem to be the Saudi Pro-League, where a reported salary of €40M a season has been offered, or Paris Saint-Germain, with Osimhen not keen on either option, preferring a move to the English Premier League.

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Osimhen’s Napoli European hopes end with 0-0 draw against Lecce

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If Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen remains in Napoli in the next season, he will not have any action in UEFA competitions.

Napoli lost their slim chances to participate in European competitions next season when they were held to a 0-0 home draw by Lecce in their last Serie A game of the campaign on Sunday.

Last season’s champions Napoli finished 10th on 53 points, level with ninth-placed Torino who were beaten 3-0 at Atalanta in a simultaneous kick off on Sunday.

Despite their loss, Torino can now still earn a Europa Conference League playoffs spot if eighth-placed Fiorentina, who have a game in hand, win the Europa Conference League.

Fiorentina face Greece’s Olympiacos for the title on Wednesday.

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Napoli needed a win to maintain their European hopes but despite 24 shots, five of them on target, they ended their disappointing campaign winless in their last seven games.

Substitute Cyril Ngonge had a good chance to give Napoli the lead just after the break but his shot from the edge of the box was saved by Lecce goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone.

Jens Cajuste hit the far post with a low strike shortly before Ngonge hit the bar in the 64th minute.

Europa League winners Atalanta, meanwhile, secured at least fourth spot after Gianluca Scamacca, Ademola Lookman and Mario Pasalic were all on target in a 3-0 win against Torino.

They sit fourth on 69 points but can still leapfrog third-placed Juventus, on 71 points, if they beat Fiorentina in their last remaining game next Sunday.

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-Reuters

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