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Ronaldo's first Juve appearance draped in tradition

 By Ben Gladwell

Director of Juventus backers Exor supports suspended president Agnelli

The managing director of the Exor group, who own Juventus' main backers Fiat Chrysler, has defended the Serie A club's president Andrea Agnelli after he was banned for a year for his involvement in ticket touting.

John Elkann spoke at an investor day for the company, which is owned by the Agnelli family, about how the Juve president continues to enjoy his total backing, in spite of a disciplinary charge which means he cannot participate in any club activity in an official role for the next year.

Agnelli's success as Juve president is enough reason not to doubt his ability, said Elkann, who believes Agnelli is innocent anyway.

"Juventus are the club with the greatest longevity of ownership by one family and we have no intention of changing this," Elkann said, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Recent years under the presidency of Andrea Agnelli have shown the capability of obtaining great sporting results while bearing the economic results in mind.

"My faith in his work and that of the directors is total. I think it is informative and useful to read the statement he made to the anti-mafia commission."

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli after he was banned for a year for his involvement in ticket touting.

That statement, which explained how Agnelli had no idea that the head of a Juventus ultras group of supporters, with whom he had met several times in the past, had mafia connections.

His meeting with the member of the 'Ndrangheta mob, Rocco Dominello -- who has been jailed for eight years -- led to his one-year ban and a €300,000 fine for Juventus, which the Turin-based club are appealing.

Agnelli has been Juve's president since 2010. The Bianconeri have won six straight Serie A titles and appeared in two of the past three Champions League finals, and Elkann does not believe they are yet receiving the respect they deserve.

"For a club like Juventus to reach the Champions League final twice in three years, it is humiliating to hear people say they are still some way from the best clubs in Europe," he added. "To have a dynamic league with rivals as good as Napoli is positive, and Juve have demonstrated that they are a club who love competition.

"So bring it on [Napoli challenging for the title], as it makes the league more interesting for everybody."

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.


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