Saturday, 27 October 2007

Lazio risk new Calciopoli charges

The Calciopoli scandal of 2006 may not be over yet, as Lazio risk a further points penalty after a phone call between coach Delio Rossi and President Claudio Lotito from April 2006 was released.

The telephone conversation from April 17, 2006, was intercepted in relation to a Serie A match between Lazio and Lecce during the the 2005-06 season. This game was investigated during the scandal last year, and resulted in a 30-point deduction and a 16th place finish.

The Biancocelesti were also penalised three points from last season and banned from entering the UEFA Cup.

However new evidence has now been revealed that suggests attempts were made to influence the result ahead of the match with Lecce on April 30, 2006.

Prosecutor Stefano Palazzi deferred both Rossi and the club to the Italian Football Federation's (FIGC) Disciplinary Commission.

In a legal document produced by Palazzi earlier this month, Rossi was alleged to have "attempted, without success, during a telephone conversation to induce S.S. Lazio President Claudio Lotito to take an initiative with the U.S. Lecce directors aimed at influencing the performance of the squad in the April 30, 2006 match."

Palazzi is reportedly ready to ask for the maximum penalty, which could be a year-long ban for Rossi and a two-point penalty for the Roman club.

In the conversation, leaked to Italian website - Rossi can be heard saying: "We have to start the negotiations with Lecce because we need them to be softened when they come here to play."

The case will be looked at by the FIGC at the start of November.

Lotito has reacted angrily to these accusations and has started legal proceedings against the website that has published the audio file.

"When he talked about softening Lecce, he purely meant the transfer market, as we were looking to sign Cristian Ledesma," assured the Lazio owner. "I am tired of underlining the inadequacy of a law that has allowed the telephone interceptions to be used in this manner."

Lecce, who went on to be relegated that year and did sell Cristian Ledesma to Lazio in the summer, also insisted the calls were innocent. "I was only called for my opinion on the value of Ledesma," assured former Lecce director of sport Carlo Regalia, whose name was mentioned in the call.

"I told the then Lazio director of sport Carlo Osti that he was a very good player and a great professional. I also said Rossi knew him well along with other players in the squad, as he had been a Lecce coach, so he could comfortably have rung me instead of getting others to do it.

"As for the match on April 30, 2006, I have absolutely no doubts on the professionalism of both clubs."

Lazio won the game 1-0, courtesy of a 57th minute goal by Tommaso Rocchi. Ledesma was banned for the game and the win sealed a UEFA Cup spot for Lazio.

Source: C4 Football Italia / Repubblica

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