Soccer

Napoli's 2-point penalty rescinded on appeal

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ROME (AP)

Italy's football federation has rescinded a two-point penalty given to Napoli for match-fixing and lifted bans imposed on captain Paolo Cannavaro and defender Gianluca Grava.

Following an appeal, the federation's internal court decided on Thursday to overturn the punishments handed out by its disciplinary commission.

Napoli was penalized in December after its former goalkeeper, Matteo Gianello, confessed to attempting to fix the result of a game between Sampdoria and Napoli in May, 2010.

Cannavaro - the younger brother of former Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro - and Grava were each banned for six months for failing to report the fix.

''It's an immense joy, I'm still crying from all the emotion,'' Cannavaro said. ''It's been a terrible month, it's been hell. Now it's freedom ... I want to thank the club, for everything it did, the coach and my teammates who comforted me every day.''

As a result of Thursday's ruling, Napoli moved level in the standings with second-place Lazio on 42 points, three behind leader and defending champion Juventus.

''It was a sensational victory, a really important result,'' Napoli's lawyer Mattia Grassani said. ''But most of all, justice has been done and what was unjustly taken has been given back to Napoli and its fantastic fans.

''It was a joy to tell (Napoli) President (Aurelio) De Laurentiis as soon as I got the official news. In this way a really sad story in which Napoli and its players paid a very heavy price has ended in a fantastic way.''

The ruling boosts Napoli's chances of winning the Serie A for the first time since Diego Maradona led the team to titles in 1987 and 1990.

''I'm happy for our position,'' coach Walter Mazzarri said. ''We deserved those points on the pitch, it would have been another huge injustice if they were taken away.''

Gianello's ban has been reduced from three years and three months to two years and nine months.

Napoli's fine has also been reduced from ?70,000 ($93,570) to ?50,000 ($66,840) .

The match Gianello attempted to fix was won 1-0 by Sampdoria with a goal from current AC Milan player Giampaolo Pazzini in the 51st minute. It was the final round of the season and the victory secured Sampdoria fourth place and a spot in the Champions League qualifiers.

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