Rome, Italy: Parma will begin the Serie A season with a five-point deduction after striker Emanuele Calaio's alleged attempt to fix the match that sealed their promotion, the Italian football federation (FIGC) said Monday.
A 2-0 win at Spezia on May 18 saw two-time UEFA Cup winners Parma promoted to the top division just three years after a financial meltdown led to relegation from Serie A and rebirth in the semi-professional Serie D, Italian football's fourth tier.
Calaio, 36, has been handed a two-year ban for match-fixing after he sent text messages to a former team-mate that appeared to ask Spezia players not to try too hard.
Spezia fans reacted furiously to their team's display after the match, directing particular anger toward former Italian international and ex-Parma player Alberto Gilardino, who smashed a penalty for Spezia high and wide with the hosts still only a goal down.
"The tribunal (Italy's National Federal Court) considers proven that Calaio, by sending the messages in question...tried to commit an illegal act," the FIGC said in a statement.
Parma said they had taken note of the decision "with great bitterness" and announced they would contest the ruling at the Italian federation's Court of Appeal.
The win over Spezia clinched second place in Serie B last season as promotion rivals Frosinone conceded a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Foggia on the final day.