Monday, 31 March 2008

Capello probed for allegedly withholding facts

An Italian prosecutor plans to bring a criminal case against England coach Fabio Capello for allegedly withholding information in a corruption trial.

He was a witness today in the trial of six men accused of fostering unfair competition through the use of threats or violence to control players into signing for a sports management firm.

The court case, which is ongoing, relates to the GEA World sports agency.

Capello said he never dealt with contracts or knew of pressure on players. "I have never heard about players being put under pressure or of incidents relating to the players' contracts," Capello said during over an hour's testimony.

"At Roma and then at Juventus when I was boss, I only dealt with coaching decisions."

The state prosecutor believes Mr Capello was evasive and at times obstructive in the evidence he gave.

The former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi, who was at the centre of the Calciopoli match-influencing scandal in 2006, and Davide Lippi, son of the former Italy coach Marcello, are among the defendants.

The England coach worked under Mr Moggi at Juventus until 2006, but it was his time in charge of Roma between 1999 and 2004 which most interested the court.

Mr Capello was asked about an interview he gave to the Corriere dello Sport newspaper about GEA World and their alleged monopoly of players. In that interview the coach said he knew many players were "gravitating towards that company".

But when asked further in court about the interview, and details he had given in the initial inquiry, the England coach was less forthcoming. Mr Capello is not thought to have lied, but the prosecutor believes he was evasive. At times he said he could not remember or recall specific details.

Moggi, who was banned from football for five years for his part in the 2006 scandal, was told off in court today for gesturing to England assistant coach Franco Baldini, who was also sporting director with Capello at Roma. Moggi's son Alessandro, also on trial, is head of GEA World.

The prosecutor Luca Palamara said he would now seek to bring a new case of withholding information against both Mr Capello and Antonio Giraudo, a former Juventus director, who also gave evidence.

Under Italian law, a person found guilty of withholding information in court can be jailed for up to six years.

In London, an English Football Association spokesman said: "It is a private matter and the FA have no comment to make."

Juventus's France forward David Trezeguet gave testimony at the trial last month with several other leading Italian football personalities set to give evidence.

Marcello Lippi, who steered Italy to their 2006 World Cup triumph, is likely to appear as a witness on Tuesday.

Source: Reuters

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