- Associated Press - Monday, May 16, 2016

CREMONA, Italy (AP) - Italy coach Antonio Conte’s “nightmare” is over after the future Chelsea manager was cleared of match-fixing on Monday following a fast-track trial in Cremona.

Prosecutor Roberto Di Martino requested a suspended six-month sentence and a fine of 8,000 euros ($9,000) for Conte, who was accused of failing to report his knowledge of attempted match-fixing during his time as Siena boss in 2011, in a case known in Italy as ‘calcioscommesse.’

But Judge Pierpaolo Beluzzi said there was no evidence to show that Conte, who has always denied wrongdoing, had been aware of illegal activity.

“Four years ago … a nightmare began that at times seemed like it would never end,” Conte said in a post on his Facebook account. “Those who were close to me and know me, know how much I suffered just at the idea that my name could be linked to the shame of calcioscommesse. Today finally the last word has been said on this awful story.

“As I have always said, also to those who were called to judge me, I am a man of the sport and I don’t know any other way to get success apart from through sacrifice and total dedication. It has been a terrible experience that I faced with my head held high.”

Conte added he has become “a stronger and more motivated person” because of “this ordeal.”

The 46-year-old Conte asked for an expedited trial in order to have a decision before the start of the European Championship next month.

The match under investigation is Siena’s 1-0 win at Albinoleffe in May 2011. Siena’s 2-2 draw at Novara, also in May 2011, was dropped from the inquiry.

“I learn with great joy of the acquittal of Antonio Conte by the Cremona court today,” Italian soccer federation president Carlo Tavecchio said. “Finally, his position has been clarified. My faith in him has never been in question. Now we are all even more focused on the Euros.”

Conte served a four-month ban during the 2012-13 season - when he was at Juventus - for failing to report fixing at Siena.

Conte’s longtime assistant, Angelo Alessio, was also cleared for his role regarding the Albinoleffe match. Di Martino requested a four-month suspended sentence for Alessio, who is expected to follow Conte to Chelsea after Euro 2016.

“It was the result we were expecting,” Conte’s lawyer, Leonardo Cammarata, said. “These have been years of tension, also of disappointment, but now the truth has been established.”

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