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23 Or 24? A Look Into The Rumored Future of Antonio Conte

Initially, this was meant to be a long, tempestuous rant of Conte pre-Modena circa 2010-2011 Serie B proportions:

Then I changed my mind. Although I don't think reality will be much different from the verdicts Gazzetta dello Sport was forwarded by Palazzi the media has already agreed upon, it does not yet feel appropriate to discuss the impending legal proceedings regarding Antonio Conte, Angelo Alessio, Cristian Stellini, Simone Pepe and Leonardo Bonucci in detail. I despise speculation, and the last thing I would want to do is follow into the footsteps of the average charlatan Italian sports journalist and take blind stabs at what awaits the Juventus camp, from those who have been the subjects of investigation to what it could all mean for their colleagues and Juventini worldwide.

Instead, I would like to shed some light onto one highly debated, particular aspect of this issue: that of the "patteggiamento", of the "co-operation", the "agreement to collaborate", or the "plea bargain" according to the ever nonsensical FIGC Code of Sporting Justice.

The second title out of the eight which comprise the FIGC Code of Sporting Justice contains the sanctions present in Articles 16-27. The ones of pertinence to the rumors of collaboration by Juventus employees in this case are the famous Article 24 and the little discussed Article 23.

Article 23: Application of Sanctions Upon Request of Sides

1. The subjects of Article 1.1 [Article 1.1: "Clubs, directors, athletes, coaches, game officials and any other subject taking part in activities of sports competition, technical, organizational, decision-making nature or however relevant as per federal ordinance, are held under observance of the federal norms and acts and must behave according to the principles of fairness, correctness and probity in any relationship however relevant to sporting activity"] can reach an agreement with the federal court before the end of the first degree argumentation phase to request to the judging entities the application of a reduced sentence, indicating the type and measure.

2.If the judging entity holds the qualification of facts as formulated by the sides correct and agrees with the indicated sanction, it withholds the power for its application with ordinance not subject to appeal, which closes the proceedings against the subject requesting.

3.The application of sanctions upon request of the sides is excluded in recurring cases and those of Article 7.6 [Article 7.6: "In the case of multiple offenses, meaning if the proceedings or result of a match has been altered or if an advantage in standings has been obtained, the sanctions are considered aggravate"].

Article 24: Collaboration of the Accused

1. In the case of admission of responsibility and factual collaboration from subjects placed under disciplinary action for discovery or confirmation of ruling violations, the judging entities can reduce, upon proposal by the federal court, the sanctions withheld in the federal ordinance by exchanging them with alternative statute of limitations applications or determine them in an equal manner.

2. In such case, the sanction reduction can also be extended to the clubs that respond in the form of direct and objective responsibility.

I wanted to explain these two articles of the FIGC Code of Sporting Justice to highlight the differences between them while trying to make sense out of what I think Conte's and the club's line of action was in regards to what countless fans and experts were calling a potential "admission of guilt" and "a plea agreement" with the authorities. Article 23 is not one of plea agreements. The way I see Article 23 is: "I am accused, I don't have faith in the system and or don't think there is anything in my power which can ultimately convince those accusing me of my complete innocence, thus in order to get out of this situation as soon as possible, as harmlessly as possible, I will ask to end things and for a reduced sanction, without acknowledging any possible guilt". Article 23 is what I believe Juventus' and Conte's rumored strategy of "working" with the authorities in hopes of a reduced sentence stemmed from. Article 24, on the other hand, describes the scenario of "guilt admission in hopes of a reduced sentence" far better: "I am accused, I admit my rule-breaking and guilt to the authorities, collaborate with them about the case and hope I they value my co-operation and eventually lower the punishment initially demanded".

The nature of Article 23 underlines the ever-nonsensical nature of Italian sporting justice. Ultimately, as has often been the case in the world of Italian sporting justice, if one finds himself on the accused list, he's a dead man, one way or another. The possibilities of an agreement for Conte have not been ruled out yet, as a matter of fact they still exist, but Wednesday's developments have made the picture much clearer.

You can call me a conspiracy-theory-loving lunatic, a bitter Calciopoli-obsessed cynic, a delusional ruBentino fanboy and anything in between, but what took place in Rome exposed the real objective of Scommessopoli: six years from Juventus' last Serie A scudetto, six years from the time Juventus looked set to dominate for years to come, six years from the trial that decimated the greatest institution Italian football can claim under its name, Juventus must get hit to appease specific interests, again. The future of Conte is already decided, as far as the authorities are concerned. How long he will be unable to coach Juventus for, what amount he will have to pay as a fine, and when he will know his own fate are merely details which time will take care of. By any means necessary, Antonio Conte needs to be taken out of the picture. Regardless of the outcome of this trial, Conte's image will forever remain tarnished, despite his honest, tenacious and driven personality and the excellent achievements his young career boasts. Whether he bases his collaboration with the authorities on Article 23 or 24, Conte will always be considered guilty, a filthy cheat, as is often the case with Juventus and its employees.

Scommessopoli in itself no longer represents the Serie A betting scandal, other than their own fans, nobody gives a damn about what lies ahead for Grossetto, Albinoleffe or Siena. The public opinion wants to see what will happen to Juventus. Omar Milanetto? Giuseppe Sculli? Andrea Masiello? Except for remembering to mention that they are all Juventus youth products, the media seems to have forgotten about them. Their utmost attention is directed towards AS Bari's former match-fixing extraordinaire Leonardo Bonucci. So what will it be, two years or three years?

There is a long season ahead of us.

Through everything, forza Capitano, forza Alessio, forza Stellini, forza Simo' and forza Bonnie.