Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Diving has always been part and parcel of the Italian game, but in recent seasons there have been signs of upright behaviour, with fewer incidents in the top flight.
Milos Krasic had obviously not read the memo when he tripped over thin air inside the Bologna penalty area to win his side a spot-kick last Sunday.
The referee Andrea De Marco had been unsighted and his assistant unable to keep up with play so the main official had to make a judgement which has had consequences for this weekend’s round of games.
Video evidence proved that the winger had gone crashing down in a heap without the slightest help from the nearest Bologna player, defender Daniele Portanova.
A two-game suspension ensued along with a slew of headlines condemning the Serbian’s (they aren’t in Italian good books at the moment) behaviour.
If the referee had spotted this piece of gamesmanship then he would have given Krasic a yellow card and that would have been the end of it even if it has become more unacceptable in a league that once prided itself on getting one over officials.
Believe or not but times are changing and the Football Federation (FIGC) was correct in enforcing a two-game suspension on the player. The message is that you may dupe the referee but not video justice and if that means missing a crucial match so be it.
Juventus, for their part, were suffering from selective myopia in seeking to justify the actions of their player which is a shame.
Coach Gigi Del Neri and sporting director Beppe Marotta had the opportunity to castigate the player in public but they refused to hold up their hands and admit that the club would not tolerate deception of any kind.
After all, this is meant to be the beginnings of a fresh, new era for the Old Lady and it would have sent out a positive message if the leading figures in Turin had taken the lead but it seems that old habits die hard.
Club resident Andrea Agnelli eventually mumbled an apology of sorts but it was wrapped up in an attack on the press for their “unfair” reporting of the player’s character.
It has been a collective rather than an individual effort to clean up the Italian game – next up has to be all-in wrestling contests inside the area at every dead-ball situation which has become the norm for referees to ignore even when it is going on in front of their eyes.
Juventus were within their legal rights to appeal the outcome (and of course Juventus face AC Milan this weekend) which was heard on Friday afternoon but the evidence always pointed to the two-game ban remaining in place.
That was the outcome when Adriano fell over inside the AS Roma area a few seasons ago when he was playing for Inter although then the club had the good grace not to appeal and of course Alberto Gilardino’s deliberate handball to score for Fiorentina at Palermo received the appropriate sanctions.
Gilardino had a bad rep when it came to simulation with his swan dive during a Champions League tie at Celtic when the striker was playing for AC Milan comes to mind. Fortunately, since the Palermo episode he seems to have cleaned up his act.
Krasic has subsequently admitted his guilt: “It was instinctive” meaning it was something that comes naturally but hopefully now he will become an upstanding citizen.
Trying to rely on delivery from the wings from Simone Pepe, will make this weekend's game much easier for Milan. The one player that could hurt the likes of shaky players such as Bonera is now suspended. Krasic is currently the tip of Juve's attacking sword, without him Milan should grind out a victory ahead of their rematch with Real Madrid next week.
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