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SOCCER NOTES

Juventus Demoted After Match-Fixing Verdicts

July 15, 2006|From the Associated Press

Italian club Juventus was demoted to the second division for match-fixing by a sports tribunal Friday and stripped of its last two Serie A titles, one of several sanctions aimed at cleaning up the scandal-marred game as the nation celebrates its fourth World Cup title.

Lazio and Fiorentina also were demoted to Serie B, and AC Milan was spared demotion but given a 15-point penalty and won't play in any European competition this season.

The toughest penalties meted out to individuals were against former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi and former Juventus chief executive Antonio Giraudo, who received the maximum five-year ban for match-fixing and disloyalty, with a recommendation to the Italian soccer federation (FIGC) to make it a lifetime ban.

The pair, who resigned in May along with the club's entire board, were accused of creating a network of contacts with FIGC officials to influence refereeing assignments and get players yellow-carded -- allegations that are at the heart of the scandal.

Of the 26 officials or referees accused in the scandal, 19 received punishment ranging from the maximum five-year ban to a warning; five were acquitted; and two were banned for life without prosecution because they resigned before being charged.

Juventus also was penalized 30 points, making its return to Serie A even more difficult and risking valuable sponsorship and broadcast rights tied to its competing in the first division. Fiorentina was penalized 12 points and Lazio seven.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy is on his way out of Manchester United and probably out of English soccer.

United Coach Alex Ferguson said that the Dutch striker had asked to leave the team. United seems certain to let him go as long as the price is right.

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New England Revolution midfielder Clint Dempsey had his suspension for violent play reduced from two games to one by Major League Soccer.

Dempsey served the suspension Friday in New England's 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake.

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Portugal Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari extended his contract with the national team through the 2008 European Championship, the country's soccer federation said.

Scolari, a Brazilian, coached Portugal to a fourth-place finish at the World Cup in Germany earlier this month and a runner-up finish in the 2004 European Championship final, losing to Greece.

Scolari, 57, also led Brazil to its fifth World Cup title in 2002.

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Croatia coach Zlatko Kranjcar was fired after public criticism of his team's first-round exit from the World Cup.

Vlatko Markovic, head of the Croatian soccer federation, said a replacement would be chosen within a week.

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