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Emotional Cannavaro has six-month ban revoked

Updated: Thursday, 17 Jan 2013 20:50 | Comments

Paolo Cannavaro (right) has been cleared of failing to report match-fixing
Paolo Cannavaro (right) has been cleared of failing to report match-fixing

Napoli defender Paolo Cannavaro burst into tears after his six-month ban from football for failing to report match-fixing was revoked on appeal.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) tonight removed a two-point penalty issued to the Serie A club for "objective responsibility" over the actions of former goalkeeper Matteo Gianello, who attempted to fix a league match against Sampdoria in 2010.

Cannavaro and team-mate Gianluca Grava were originally suspended from playing for six months for failing to report an approach from Gianello, with the club handed both a deduction and a €70,000 euro fine for their association with the 36-year-old, who is now a free agent.

But following the FIGC's announcement this evening, an overwhelmed Cannavaro admitted he had been going through "hell" since the original verdict was released on December 18.

He told sscnapoli.it: "It's an immense feeling of joy and I'm still crying with the emotion. It was a terrible month, hell. Now this is a release.

"I was in a really bad way. I won't be able to forget what I went through this month. I thank all those who were close to me.

"I want to thank the club for all that they did, the coach and my team-mates that have consoled me every day."

Neither Cannavaro - the brother of World Cup winner Fabio - or Grava were able to help Napoli recoup a 10-point deficit on league leaders Juventus, but Walter Mazzarri's team coped well on the pitch over the festive period, closing the gap to six points before tonight's announcement restored them to joint second, alongside Lazio.

Grava was also unable to contain his emotions at a hastily-convened press conference.

"When I heard from Paolo, we both started to cry with joy. It's the end of a nightmare," the 35-year-old said.

"It seemed like a nightmare from which I could not wake up. I'm feeling great joy and I am happy that justice has been done."

Head coach Mazzarri felt the club's staunch opposition of the deduction had finally been vindicated, while paying tribute to his players' strength of character.

He said: "First of all I am very happy for Paolo and Gianluca, two exceptionally honourable lads who were victims of a great injustice.

"I'm happy with the league table. We deserved those points because we earned them on the field. It would have been another great injustice if they had been stolen."

Reports in Italy had suggested Napoli's various punishments would be halved, with the club having to settle for a one-point deduction and the players three-match bans.

But a statement published on the FIGC's official website indicated that the governing body were prepared to exonerate the three parties while slightly reducing the original fine.

It read: "The two penalty points issued to Napoli have been revoked, but the club will pay a fine of 50,000 euros.

"There are acquittals for Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava, while the disqualification of Matteo Gianello has been reduced from three years and three months to one year and nine months.

"These are the decisions of the Federal Court of Justice following appeals against the judgments made by the Naples branch of the disciplinary committee on match-fixing."

Meanwhile, Lazio and Genoa are still under investigation by prosecutors in Cremona who are examining claims of match-fixing in a Serie A match between the two sides in May 2011.

The wide-sweeping campaign against match-fixing and illegal betting, referred to as 'Calcioscommesse', saw Siena deducted six points this summer.

Former Siena coach Antonio Conte, now in charge of Juventus, was handed a six-month ban for his failure to report attempts to fix matches in Serie B during the 2010-11 season. The ban was subsequently reduced to four months on appeal.

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