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Italian FA court acquits all in transfer trickery trial

Milan (AFP) – Some of Italian football’s top figures could breath a sigh of relief on Friday after the country’s football federation acquited everyone brought to its tribunal over suspicious transfer dealings.

Juventus and Napoli chairmen Andrea Agnelli and Aurelio De Laurentiis were among 61 people before the FIGC’s tribunal for their alleged roles in suspected inflated transfer values designed to artificially boost clubs’ balance sheets.

Agnelli was facing a possible year-long ban and prosecutors also asked for suspensions for a raft of Juve directors. De Laurentiis, his wife and two of his children also risked long bans.

Their clubs, two of Italy’s biggest, were also up before judges alongside nine other teams from Serie A and the lower divisions.

The trial was closed to the public but reportedly looked at 62 transfers over three seasons between 2019 and 2021, with the majority involving Juve but the biggest being Victor Osimhen’s 70 million euro move from Lille to Napoli.

That transfer stood out as it involved four players valued at just over 20 million euros moving to Lille as part of the deal. Three of them never played for the French club and are now in Italy’s lower divisions.

The defendants argued that there was no objective way to gauge a player’s worth, and in Thursday’s edition of sports daily Corriere Dello Sport, Napoli’s lawyer said that prosecutors had based their own valuations on data from popular website Transfermarkt.

The tribunal’s ruling cuts short what had been expected to be a long legal battle with appeals but does not completely end the controversy, as Juve are also being investigated by criminal prosecutors in Turin over alleged inflated capital gains between 2019 and 2021.

The club is suspected of having presented false accounting information to investors and producing invoices for non-existent transactions over that period.

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