Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Fiorentina have lost a lot of the good will they have built up over the last year or so.
The Tuscans have been the little angels of Italian football ever since they applauded Inter off the pitch at the end of last season’s encounter.
This gesture came in the emotionally-charged aftermath of the death of coach Cesare Prandelli’s wife – and regardless of the circumstances, the Viola were considered the example of what the game should stand for: sportsmanship whatever the result.
The halo has thus slipped a little following Alberto Gilardino’s two-match ban for handling the ball into the net at Palermo on Sunday.
The striker was a bit shame-faced when he ran off to sort-of celebrate after the referee pointed back to the centre-spot.
However, there was no getting away from the video-replays – and the hand of Gila will now be added to the clips of Maradona, Raul and a host of other players who have used their hand to score.
There was no way the ever-combustible Maurizio Zamparini was going to allow the matter to slip by and started the ball rolling by demanding a ban.
There’s ‘history’ between the two clubs anyway: Zamparini branded Adrian Mutu “a gypsy” last year for scoring against his team when a Palermo player was down injured and, of course, Luca Toni went on to greater success when he left the Sicilians for Florence.
Most of the Italian football ‘family’ would have preferred the matter to have been quickly forgotten but the Football League were left with no option to at least review the footage.
Viola coach Cesare Prandelli described his player sticking out his arm as an “instinctive” gesture but from where Serie Aaaaargh! was sitting - in front of the TV, watching the umpteenth replay – it looked deliberate.
Gila would probably have had a good case for a penalty if he had allowed the ball to travel across his body as defender Paolo Dellafiore was clearly dragging him back.
It’s a pity the frontman did not own up at the time as Daniele De Rossi did when he knocked one home with his hand against Messina a few years back.
The goal was disallowed and the Roma midfielder was hailed by one and all as “sporting hero” and candidate for instant sainthood.
Instead of leaving it at that and accepting that their player had been a little devil and had looked to gain an unfair advantage, Fiorentina decided to appeal and lash out in all directions.
“They have it in for us,” claimed Prandelli. “They” being whom exactly, he would not elaborate on.
It was a chance lost to live up to their tag of “sporting gents.” Of course, the only winners out of this sorry episode will probably be Inter who happen to face Fiorentina this evening.
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