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Top Italian Football Teams Given Tough Sanctions in Corruption Scandal

An Italian sports tribunal demoted three top league teams to the second division as part of a trial into a corruption scandal engulfing soccer. A fourth was spared demotion but will not be able to play in European tournaments this season.

The long-awaited ruling on Italy's soccer scandal was read out late in the evening Friday at a hotel in central Rome. Hundreds of fans from the teams involved, Juventus, Lazio, Fiorentina and AC Milan had been waiting outside the hotel for hours to learn the sports tribunal's verdict.

The court ruled that three of the teams, champions Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina would be demoted to the second division. The fourth team involved, AC Milan, was not demoted but given a 15-point penalty in the top division and will not be able to play in European tournaments this season.

This Juventus fan was upset but said it could have been worse.

He says everything that happened was not expected but it's best to see the glass half full and after all Juventus could have been demoted to an even lower division.

But Juventus also had its last two titles taken away.

Now many players could decide to leave the clubs involved, including Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon who plays for Juventus. The ruling was handed down just five days after Italy's world cup win. 13 of the players who were on the Italy team play for one of the four teams affected by the ruling.

After reading out the results affecting the clubs, the tribunal's chief judge also read out the verdicts affecting soccer officials charged with match-fixing and disloyalty.

He said Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi was banned from soccer for five years. Former Juventus chief executive Antonio Giraudo also was banned for five years. And, Franco Carraro, the head of the Italian soccer league and a member of the International Olympic Committee, was banned for 4 1/2 years.