Incoming Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has admitted that he is feeling ‘stronger’ after a judge acquitted him of any wrongdoing in a match-fixing scandal that has enveloped Italy.
The Italian, who will arrive at Stamford Bridge after leading his home nation to the European Championships in France this summer, was in court accused of turning a blind-eye to match-fixing whilst he was the manager of the Italian club Siena in 2011. However the judge in the case in Cremona dismissed the case, saying that the accusations had no basis.
The 46-year-old has been confirmed as the manager to take the Chelsea hot-seat from the end of the Euros, with the West London club needing someone to permanently replace Jose Mourinho who was sacked in December. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ led the defending Premier League champions to their worst start to a campaign in the top-flight since the 1960s, resulting in Guus Hiddink being brought in to replace him.
The bookmakers don’t have a huge amount of faith in Conte, with the Italian more likely to get the sack than win the league as far as the odds are concerned. But the man himself believes that the torment of his trial will make him stronger. Writing on his Facebook page he said, “Today finally draws a line under this ugly story. Four years ago, a search of my house at 5am ushered in a nightmare period that at times I felt would go on forever. 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”.
The former Juventus player became their club’s manager after his time at Siena and in 2012 he was banned for ten months after he was found guilty by the Italian Football Association of failing to report match-fixing allegations in two matches involving his former club. The ban was later reduced by a sports tribunal to four months, but to some extent the damage had already been done.
Cone continued, “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,” he added. 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. 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”.