Antonio Conte acquitted in match-fixing trial
Italy head coach Antonio Conte is clear to take charge of Chelsea in the summer after being acquitted of charges pertaining to sporting fraud, an Italian judge has announced.
The 46-year-old, who will move to England and Stamford Bridge after leading Italy at the European Championship, had been accused of failing to report his knowledge of an incident of attempted match-fixing during his time as Siena boss in 2011.
Cremona-based prosecutor Roberto Di Martino had asked for Conte to be handed a suspended six-month prison sentence and fined 8,000 euros (£6,300), but the former Juventus coach, represented by lawyers, was on Monday acquitted by judge Pierpaolo Beluzzi during a preliminary hearing.
Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio welcomed the decision, telling Italian newspaper Il Sole: "I am highly satisfied with the court's acquittal of Antonio Conte.
"Finally his position has been clarified and my confidence in him has never been in question. Now we are all the more focused on the Euros."
In 2012 Conte, who has always denied any wrongdoing, served a four-month ban imposed by the FIGC in connection with the case, which is known in Italy as 'Calcioscommesse'.
Conte on Monday evening marked the end of a "nightmare period" in his life by publishing a statement on his official Facebook page.
"Four years ago, a search of my house at 5am ushered in a nightmare period that at times I felt would go on forever," wrote the Lecce-born tactician.
"Those who stood by me, and who know me best, know how much I have struggled with the idea that my name might be associated with the shameful world of match-fixing.
"Today finally draws a line under this ugly story.
"I thank my family and the many people who never believed even for a moment the words which presented a false image of my lifestyle.
"As I have already said to those who were trying to judge me, I am a sportsman and I know no other way to achieve success than through sacrifice and total dedication.
"It was a terrible experience and I have faced it head on. This is demonstrated by the fact that I decided to take part in the process, as I have always done in life, rather than looking for loopholes.
"To all those who never doubted my honesty, I want to express my gratitude, and reassure them that I have emerged from this testing time as a stronger and more highly motivated person."