(Reuters) - Italian third division side Nocerina have been kicked out of the league while officials and players have been banned over a derby match which was abandoned after half the team went down with alleged injuries.
Nocerina’s match at Salernitana was called off after they made their three permitted substitutions in the first two minutes and five players went off injured in the next 20, leaving them below the required minimum of seven players.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) said in a statement on Wednesday that the club had been relegated to a minor league for committing “a sporting offence” and fined 10,000 euros (8,271.95 pounds).
Club president Luigi Benevento was banned for three years and six months along with general director Luigi Pavarese and team doctor Giovanni Rosati by an FIGC tribunal.
Five players were banned for one year each, while six were acquitted.
Nocerina fans were incensed at being been banned from the match to avoid potential crowd trouble and, according to Italian media, demanded that the players refuse to take part in the match, reportedly making death threats.
Video pictures showed that Nocerina’s team bus was surrounded by dozens of their own fans as it left their hotel for the stadium to play the Lega Pro, group B match.
On hearing that the game had been abandoned, the supporters celebrated in a public square.
The farcical events were the latest blow to the lower tiers of Italian football which is still reeling from the calcioscommesse match-fixing scandal.
About 50 players were banned and more than one dozen clubs had points deducted over the manipulation of lower league matches during the 2010/11 season.
Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris