Juve coach criticizes Italian federation for ban

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TURIN, Italy (AP) -Juventus coach Antonio Conte says he is being made a scapegoat in the Italian match-fixing scandal.

Conte's appeal against a 10-month ban for his role in the scandal was rejected Wednesday by the Italian football federation.

"This is an absurd story and I have always behaved properly on the pitch and off it," Conte said in a specially called news conference on Thursday. "I am the object of slanderous accusations, to make me out to be the public face of a football betting scandal.

"There is a judge, who talks about me, says inopportune things, maybe as a football fan. He has something personal against me. "

The federation's disciplinary committee confirmed the guilty finding for failing to report match-fixing in Albinoleffe's match against Siena during the 2010-11 season, when Conte was coach of then-Serie B team Siena. It threw out the guilty finding in a second game that season - against Novara - but maintained the 10-month sentence.

"I have always behaved in a proper way, even with the pain and the knowledge that I had suffered really great injustice and slanderous accusations," Conte said. "For Novara vs. Siena, it's seven months that, on TV and in the newspapers, my face has been put alongside football betting and I have never made a bet in my life.

"What's happened? It's that I came to a team as loved and hated as Juventus and won when no one expected it. With help from the club and players I've won a scudetto and I got two promotions in five years. If I annoy people because I win, it's not my problem."

Conte came under suspicion during the testimony of Filippo Carobbio, who played under Conte at Siena. After he was arrested, Carobbio said his former coach was aware of a fix for the 2-2 draw between Novara and Siena in Serie B last May.

"I am more believable than someone like Carobbio who sold matches, it's a disgrace," Conte added. "Everything that's happened is absurd, everyone should know what has been done to me and what they are doing, because it is a disgrace.

"The players know me, I have never bet, but now all the Juventus fans and not only them must know. And to my colleagues, coaches and footballers I say: `Today it happened to me and others, today it could also happen to you."'

Juventus will appeal to Italy's sports arbitration panel and its case will be boosted by the federation's disciplinary committee saying Carobbio's testimony was not entirely credible.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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