LONDON (AP) — Tottenham’s attempts at identifying a long-term successor to fired manager Antonio Conte were thrown into more chaos after Fabio Paratici, the club’s managing director of football, agreed to take an immediate leave of absence on Friday.
Paratici’s 2 1/2-year ban for his part in a false accounting scandal involving former club Juventus was extended worldwide by FIFA on Wednesday.
Tottenham sought clarification from FIFA, given an appeal was launched with the Italian soccer federation. That appeal will be heard on April 19 but Paratici is stepping away from his duties at the English Premier League club ahead of that.
“Given FIFA’s unexpected ruling, the sanctions (against Paratici) may now have multi-jurisdictional effect, although they are still related to the FIGC (Italian soccer federation) appeal,” Tottenham said in a statement.
“In view of FIFA’s decision, Fabio has agreed with the club that he will take an immediate leave of absence pending the outcome of his appeal.”
Paratici’s absence is likely to have a significant impact on Tottenham at a time when the club is conducting a search for a new manager following the departure of Conte, who left on Sunday — a week after a post-match outburst in which he criticized the players and made withering comments about Tottenham’s ownership.
Paratici would have been expected to play a key role in identifying and hiring Conte’s successor, with former Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann among the names linked with the job.
Cristian Stellini, the assistant to Conte, has taken charge of the team until the end of the season.
Prosecutors had been investigating since 2021 whether Juventus cashed in on illegal commissions from transfer and loans of players. Juventus said at the start of the coronavirus pandemic that 23 players agreed to reduce their salary for four months to help the club through the crisis. But prosecutors claim the players gave up only one month’s salary.
Juventus, which denies wrongdoing, was hit with a 15-point penalty in January and bans were handed out to officials including Paratici, former president Andrea Agnelli and former CEO Maurizio Arrivabene.
Juve has appealed against the points penalty to Italy’s highest sports court within the Italian Olympic Committee, known as CONI. The appeal hearing at CONI is slated for April 19.
Stellini held his first news conference since the departure of Conte, his long-standing friend, and insisted Tottenham was not in a crisis.
“A bit chaotic, absolutely a bit chaotic,” Stellini said, “but we have big shoulders to consider this type of situation. We had an international break and that helped because we have time to think about everything. The club and every one of us have to take a decision and the decision was taken for the best of everyone.
“No, it’s not a club in crisis, absolutely not, because everyone takes the decision for the best and when you take the decision and you follow the process, you are not in crisis.”
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