Why were Juventus docked points and what happens next?

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Italian football’s leading club has been plunged into chaos after being deducted 15 points over alleged financial improprieties.

Italy’s most successful football club is once again embroiled in controversy.

Juventus, the 36-time winners of Serie A, have dropped to ninth after being docked 15 points following an investigation into the club’s previous transfer deals.

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The Turin club is now 27 points behind leaders Napoli. They were third, 10 points off the top spot, before the penalties were applied on Friday.

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The controversy comes less than 20 years after they were embroiled in a match-fixing saga that saw them heavily fined, stripped of titles and relegated from the top tier of Italian football in 2006.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest scam:

Why were Juventus docked points?

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Juventus have been deducted 15 points for “financial irregularities” and “false accounting” in relation to the historic transfer deal – the exchange of players between clubs – the Italian football federation (FIGC) announced on Friday evening.

The club is accused of pumping up its balance sheet by deliberately inflating player valuations during transfers in order to promote “capital gains”.

Balancing the books has become more important in recent years following the introduction of Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules by European football’s governing body UEFA.

FIGC prosecutor Giuseppe Chin requested that a nine-point penalty be implemented. The federation is due to publish the reason for its decision within the next 10 days.

Juventus has denied any wrongdoing and indicated it would appeal against the FIGC’s decision. [File: Massimo Pinca/Reuters]

Were other penalties imposed?

As well as the points deduction, the FIGC also imposed sanctions on 11 former and current Juventus officials, preventing them from holding positions in Italian football.

The longest single ban – a total of 30 months – was imposed on former Juventus sporting director and current Tottenham managing director Fabio Paratici.

Former President Andrea Agnelli was given a 24-month suspension, while Vice President Pavel Nedved received an eight-month ban. Both were former members of the club’s board of directors, who resigned en masse in November in response to an investigation into the club’s bookkeeping.

The FIGC has requested that the sanctions imposed by it be extended to “UEFA and FIFA activities” – a move which, if implemented, would mean that sanctioned individuals would also be banned from working in football outside Italy.

What did Juventus say?

Juventus have strongly denied any wrongdoing.

The club announced that it would launch an appeal against the FIGC’s decision – once the reasons for the decision were published – to the Sports Guarantee Board of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), Italy’s highest sports court.

The club’s lawyers said the federation’s sanctions “constitute a clear inequality of treatment against Juventus and its managers in comparison to any other company or member”.

“We consider this a gross injustice to millions of fans as well, which we are confident will soon be resolved in the next court of law,” the lawyers said in a statement.

Have other clubs been implicated?

It is not as it stands.

Juventus, 10 other clubs – including Napoli and Sampdoria – and 59 officials were cleared of any wrongdoing in April last year following an audit.

The investigation was reopened in December following an appeal, with nine of the original 11 clubs and 52 officials all subject to renewed investigation.

It came after new evidence relating to Juventus’ finances emerged from a separate investigation involving prosecutors in Turin and the club.

This time nine clubs were investigated and Juventus were found guilty of financial misconduct. The other eight clubs – Empoli, Genoa, Novara, Parma, Pescara, Pisa, Pro Vercelli and Sampdoria – were again acquitted.

What will happen next?

While Juventus could be bracing for a protracted legal battle ahead, Italy’s most storied football club is also doing its best to salvage a largely ineffective season on the pitch.

The team have already been knocked out of the Champions League and the points deduction leaves them in grave danger of finishing in the top four of Serie A, which will secure a place in European football’s premier club competition next year.

The Old Lady, as Juventus are commonly known, are currently 14 points behind fourth-placed Roma.

Failure to qualify for the Champions League would have huge economic consequences for the club and this latest scandal combined with the potential for an exodus of the team’s most talented players.

Against this backdrop, Juventus is also the subject of a UEFA investigation by the public prosecutor’s office in Turin into wage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic and possible breaches of the governing body’s club licensing and FFP regulations.

The UEFA investigation could eventually see Juventus banned from participating in the Champions League or lesser European club competitions – the Europa League and the Conference League – regardless of their final position in Serie A.

Why were Juventus docked points and what happens next?

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