Berlusconi: Conte may have been persecuted in match-fixing scandal

The former Italian Premier has backed the Juventus coach as he returns to the touchline following a four-month ban for failing to report match-fixing
Silvio Berlusconi has come to the defence of Antonio Conte as the Juventus boss returns to the bench for the first time since serving a ban for his role in the recent match-fixing scandal.

Conte was given a 10-month suspension by the Italian Football Federation, reduced to four months on appeal, after being found guilty of withholding information concerning match-fixing during his time at Siena.

However, Berlusconi has given his support to the Bianconeri trainer and cast doubt over the legitimacy of the charges.

"I do not know the specifics of the situation," the AC Milan president was quoted by Tuttosport.

"But there would be no wonder if he was one of those persecuted by justice, in this case by the sporting authorities."

Though allowed to train his side, Conte has been absent from the sidelines for all 22 games so far this campaign but has retained the unwavering backing of his club's president, Andrea Agnelli.

"Conte is and will remain our coach," Agnelli stated.

"This was an inquisitorial process," he added, when asked about his coach's sentence.

Juventus travel to Sicily to face Palermo on Sunday, with the Old Lady leading Serie A on 35 points from their 15 league fixtures.