ROME (AP) — Newly promoted Serie A team Parma saw its five-point deduction expunged on appeal on Thursday, while forward Emanuele Calaio had a two-year ban reduced to less than five months, in an attempted match-fixing case.
The Italian football federation's appeals court instead fined Parma 20,000 euros ($23,000).
Calaio, who was initially fined 20,000 euros on July 23 with a two-year ban, will now only be banned until Dec. 31 but has had his fine increased to 30,000 euros.
Calaio sent suspect text messages to an opposing player prior to the final match of the Serie B season in May, with Parma needing to beat Spezia to secure automatic promotion.
Calaio, who used to play for Spezia, sent four messages on WhatsApp to defender Filippo De Col, encouraging him and another former teammate Claudio Terzi to not try too hard in the game. The 36-year-old Calaio has always insisted he was joking.
Four days before the crucial match, Calaio sent a series of messages to De Col: "Hey Pippein (De Col) you better not give me a hard time Friday my friend," ''Tell that to Claudiein (Terzi) too" and "Especially with the relationship you have with me."
After getting no response, Calaio sent another message several hours later: "However Pippein be calm I was joking anyways for me it's the same after all I'll retire in a bit."
The 24-year-old De Col, who had previously last received a message from Calaio in December, immediately showed the messages to the Spezia team manager, and the authorities were then informed.
Parma won the match 2-0 to finish in second place and return to the top flight just three years after being declared bankrupt. It finished level on points with Frosinone, which drew 2-2 against Foggia, but clinched second courtesy of a better head-to-head record.
It became the first Italian club to earn three successive promotions, in what was seen as a fairytale rise back to the top.
The football federation's prosecutor had originally requested Parma either be deducted six points from the upcoming season or two from the previous campaign. That would have put it back to fourth place, below Palermo as well as Frosinone — which went on to win the playoff to also earn promotion.
The prosecutor had also asked for Calaio to be banned for four years.
The court rejected Palermo's appeal.