'Napoli fan' prosecutor steps aside from legal case against Juventus

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Europa League - Play-Off First Leg - Juventus v Nantes - Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy - February 16, 2023 General view during a minutes silence for the victims of an earthquake in Turkey and Syria before the match REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

MILAN (Reuters) -One of three prosecutors accusing Italian soccer club Juventus of financial misconduct has left the case after the emergence of derogatory comments he made about the team, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

In a video shot at a legal conference in Milan in 2019, a year before the inquiry into top-flight Serie A club Juventus opened, Turin prosecutor Ciro Santoriello said: "I am a huge fan of Napoli (soccer team), I hate Juventus".

"As a soccer fan I care about Napoli, as a prosecutor I am against Juventus, against robberies on the pitch," he added in what appears to be a light-hearted exchange.

Juventus, Italy's most successful soccer team, are based in the northwestern city of Turin. The club was relegated to Serie B in 2006 for its part in a match-fixing scandal centred on the allocation of referees.

The video, which has been recirculated widely on social media in recent months, angered Juventus supporters and raised questions over possible bias in probing the club. Santoriello has not questioned the authenticity of the video.

Public prosecutors in Turin have requested that former Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli, 11 other people and the club itself stand trial over allegations of false accounting.

Juventus have denied wrongdoing and said their accounting was in line with industry standards.


The source said prosecutor Santoriello communicated his decision to Turin's chief prosecutor, saying he wanted to avoid any potential pressures from media on the trial after the video resurfaced.

In an emailed reply to Reuters, Santoriello said he had no comment.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled to start on Monday to decide whether to send the defendants to trial or acquit them. Such hearings can last months.

It will be attended by the other two prosecutors in charge of the investigation, the source said.

The Turin investigation has triggered a separate inquiry over the club finances by Italy's sport authority, which resulted in a 15 point deduction for Juventus this season. Napoli top the league and appear certain to win the title for only the third time.

Juventus have appealed the decision at Italy's Sport Guarantee Board. A hearing on the case is scheduled on April 19.

(Reporting by Emilio Parodi, additional reporting by Elvira Pollina and Giulio Piovaccari, Editing by Keith Weir, Andrew Cawthorne and Angus MacSwan)

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