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15 point penalty. President banned. Juventus players face uncertain future.

Italy’s most celebrated club, Juventus, was hit with a massive 15-point penalty for false accounting on Friday following an appeal hearing at the Italian soccer federation.

The punishment could eliminate the club’s chances of playing in Europe next season.

A record 36-time Italian champion, Juventus was third in Serie A and the penalty drops the Bianconeri to a midtable position — 25 points behind leader Napoli and 12 points from the Champions League places.

Juventus said it will appeal the decision to Italy’s highest sports court within the Italian Olympic Committee.

Also, former Juventus president Andrea Agnelli and former club CEO Maurizio Arrivabene were each banned for two years from soccer activities.

More bans were handed out for nine other members of Juve’s staff or former board, which resigned en masse in November following an investigation by Turin public prosecutors into alleged false bookkeeping.

The longest ban of 2 ½ years was handed out to former Juventus sporting director and current Tottenham managing director Fabio Paratici.

Current Juventus sporting director Federico Cherubini was banned for 16 months and former Juventus player turned board member Pavel Nedved was given eight months.

Fines were requested for eight other clubs: Sampdoria, Pro Vercelli, Genoa, Parma, Pisa, Empoli, Pescara and Novara. But all eight other clubs were cleared.

Juventus was already eliminated from the Champions League in a horrible start to this season, which also saw it win only two of its opening nine Serie A matches. The club had since bounced back to climb into the top four.

Juventus could face further penalties from UEFA, which also opened an inquiry into the club’s finances after the Turin prosecutor’s office requested indictments for Agnelli and 10 other former board members as well as the club itself.

Juventus is listed on the Milan stock exchange, which also opens it to regulatory scrutiny.

At the start of the pandemic, Juventus said 23 players agreed to reduce their salary for four months to help the club through the crisis. But prosecutors claim the players gave up only one month’s salary.

Turin prosecutors have also apparently discovered more alleged secret payments to former player Cristiano Ronaldo that were not reported by Juventus.

In September, Juventus reported a record loss of 254.3 million euros ($276 million) for the 2021-22 financial year.

It was the fifth consecutive year that Juventus reported a loss, and it was 44.4 million euros ($48 million) more than in 2020-21.

A preliminary hearing for the investigation by Turin prosecturs is scheduled for March.

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