Match Fixing Latest: Napoli Handed 2-Point Deduction in Italy's Serie A

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2012

MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 09:  Paolo Cannavaro  (R) of SSC Napoli speaks with Referee Nicola Rizzoli during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and SSC Napoli at San Siro Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
Dino Panato/Getty Images

Napoli have suffered a big disappointment in Italy's Serie A with the news that they have been handed a two-point deduction, effective immediately, after a former player was convicted of attempting to fix a result during the 2009-10 season.

The Italian club have stated that they intend to fight the decision and do not believe that points should be removed during a campaign that has already started.

In addition to the points deduction, Napoli have been fined €70,000 and two of their current players, Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava, have been suspended from playing for six months.

The two defenders have been banned for "failing to report the wrongdoings" of former goalkeeper Matteo Gianello, according to that BBC report.

Gianello himself has been banned for 39 months and, at age 36 and presently being without a club, it could signal the end of his professional career. He has admitted that he attempted to fix a match against Sampdoria in the 2009-10 season. Napoli lost the match 1-0.

The full statement by the club told how they expected any punishments to be handed out during the close season, not in the middle of one, as per the Guardian:

Any decision must be made before the start of a tournament or at the end of it. There has been enough time to evaluate and make a decision since the 2009-10 season. We are confident that true justice can be applied to the separate decisions, based on law and equity.

A two-point deduction at this moment in time is sufficient to knock Napoli out of the top three spots in the league—the Champions League qualifying places—and into fifth, behind Lazio and Fiorentina.

Not only would this give them more ground to make up in the fight for these top spots but defender Cannavaro, one of those who has been given a six-month ban, is a key component of the team having played in 16 of their 17 league fixtures to date.

Highlighting his importance, Cannavaro has made more clearances (8.2 per game) than any of Napoli's other regular central defenders.

For Napoli the implications are clear; they may acknowledge that justice needs to be done after wrongdoing but the loss of points with the top end of the table so tight—three points separate second from fifth—could end up costing them a lot more than €70,000 with a Champions League berth at stake.

Both the club and their two current players will appeal the decisions that would otherwise leave Cannavaro and Grava ineligible to feature again until next season.

This latest news continues the long-running "football bet" scandal of Italian football which has already encompassed the likes of Juventus manager Antonio Conte, national team defender Domenico Criscito, Atalanta midfielder Cristiano Doni and former superstar player Giuseppe Signori.

The eventual consequences of the punishments for Napoli will only truly be seen at the end of the campaign, but the club are clearly unwilling to risk involvement in next season's top continental competition after the investigations have taken so long to arrive at these latest conclusions.

Should Napoli's punishment be confirmed, it will bring the total number of clubs in Serie A to five who have suffered a points deduction for the present campaign. Torino, Atalanta, Sampdoria and Siena are the others.

Napoli play Siena, bottom of the table, in their next league fixture.

Statistical data from