REUTERS: Serie A champions Juventus took action at high levels to speed up an attempt to gain Italian citizenship for Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, prosecutors said on Friday as they suspended four university officials over a language test taken by the player.
Suarez, whose wife is of Italian descent, passed the exam in September at the University for Foreigners in Perugia as part of the naturalisation process needed for his potential transfer to the Serie A champions.
Juventus, who hoped to sign him from Barcelona, needed him to acquire Italian citizenship to avoid exceeding their permitted quota of non-EU players, but suspicions were quickly raised in the media that he was given preferential treatment.
"It emerged that the contents of the test had been communicated in advance to the player himself and the result and the score of the exam had been predetermined in order to correspond to the requests made by Juventus," said a statement by chief prosecutor Raffaele Cantone.
It said that Juventus management "took action, even at the highest institutional levels, to 'speed up' the granting of Italian citizenship for Suarez."
Juventus did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The university, where the four officials were suspended for eight months as a precautionary measure, has denied wrongdoing.
The prosecutors said they were still investigating whether "individuals other than those belonging to the university" may have committed an offence.
Suarez, 33, obtained the intermediate B1 qualification required for citizenship in 15 minutes, his examiner said after the test, having only done the oral part of the exam.
Suarez was eventually signed by Atletico Madrid while Juventus signed Spaniard Alvaro Morata to strengthen their strikeforce.
(Writing by Brian Homewood, additional reporting by Joe Walker; editing by Gavin Jones and Toby Davis)