Italy boss Antonio Conte acquitted in match-fixing trial

The preliminary hearing judge of the court of Cremona has acquitted Italy coach Antonio Conte of committing any crime in a trial regarding match-fixing.

Conte, who will take charge at Chelsea this summer, sought and obtained an accelerated trial to enable him to prepare for the European Championship in France this summer without any legal battle hanging over him.

The former Juventus coach was accused of having known about an attempt to fix a match while he was in charge of Siena in Italy's Serie B in May 2011.

He did not report it and even allowed the manipulation of the fixture to take place, according to the initial sporting investigation, which saw him banned for four months during his second season in charge of Juve.

That investigation was subsequently taken up by the court of Cremona to see if there were any grounds for civil proceedings.

The public prosecutor of the investigation, Roberto Di Martino, had initially proposed a suspended six-month prison term when deliberating last month, but the preliminary hearing judge Pierpaolo Berluzzi on Monday acquitted Conte entirely, the ANSA news agency reported.

Conte's assistant coach with the Italy national team, Angelo Alessio, also has been acquitted.

Furthermore, the court of Cremona is to pass on the investigation into the alleged fixing of individual matches to courts throughout Italy for further analysis.

Conte on Monday evening marked the end of a "nightmare period" in his life by publishing a statement on his official Facebook page.

"Four years ago, a search of my house at 5 a.m. ushered in a nightmare period that at times I felt would go on forever," wrote the Lecce-born tactician.

"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.

"Today finally draws a line under this ugly story. 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.

"As I have already said to those who were trying to judge me, 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. This is demonstrated by the fact that I decided to take part in the process, as I have always done in life, rather than looking for loopholes.

"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."

Conte and Alessio can now push forward their preparations for Euro 2016 with a preliminary squad announcement due on Monday. A large squad will meet up from Wednesday until Saturday for a series of fitness tests before Conte reduces the numbers for a more serious training camp at the Italian FA's Coverciano training facilities.

Conte must name his final 23-man squad for Euro 2016 by May 31.