Juventus lose, cop points penalty for false accounting

·3-min read

Juventus have copped a 10-point penalty, jeopardising their chances of not just qualifying for next year's Champions League, but any European competition.

The latest punishment for false accounting dropped the Italian giants from second in Serie A to seventh following Roma's draw at home to Salernitana earlier on Monday.

And there they stayed after a 4-1 defeat to lowly Empoli in the late match.

The Bianconeri are now a point behind Roma and five points behind AC Milan, who moved into the fourth and final qualifying spot.

If Juventus finish seventh to get into Europe they will be relying on Inter Milan to beat Fiorentina in the Italian Cup final (as the Europa League place the winners gain would then revert to the league because Inter would already be qualified).

Seventh in Serie A would then earn a place in the third-tier Conference League.

"The guys did their best. It's not an excuse, but finding yourself with 10 points less, a quarter of an hour before the match is at least mitigating circumstances," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.

"It's been a really tiring year, always going back and forth. And on the field, we're second."

Roma, who had started the day seven points off then fourth-placed Inter Milan, could have cut the gap to the top four to two points.

But having twice trailed to goals from Antonio Candreva and Boulaye Dia they were fortunate to gain one point with equalisers by Stephan El Shaarawy and, seven minutes from time, Nemanja Matic.

Roma can also qualify for the Champions League by beating Sevilla in the Europa League final on May 31.

Juventus were originally handed a 15-point penalty in January while several members of the former board were also given bans from soccer activities, including ex-president Andrea Agnelli.

The points deduction was suspended last month on an appeal to the country's highest sports court and referred back to the soccer federation's appeals court for a new trial. They gave their verdict after a three-hour hearing.

The club said in a statement that they had taken note of the latest ruling and reserved "the right to read the reasons to evaluate a possible appeal".

They added that the decision "arouses great bitterness in the club and in its millions of supporters" who have found themselves "penalised by the application of sanctions that do not seem to take into account the principle of proportionality".

The previous Juventus board resigned en masse in November following an investigation by Turin public prosecutors into alleged false bookkeeping.

A sports trial in the case was then re-opened based on information from the Turin prosecutors, leading to the points deduction. Juventus had initially been cleared by the sports court the previous April.

The prosecutors in Turin have also charged Juventus, Agnelli and 11 others with false communications by a company listed publicly on the Milan stock exchange, obstructing watchdog agencies, false billing and market manipulation.

Juventus' legal troubles deepened still further last week after the Italian soccer federation charged the club and seven former team directors with alleged fraud for the way they handled player salary cuts during the coronavirus pandemic.

With PA.