Italy boss Giampiero Ventura has excluded Graziano Pelle from Italy’s next match with Macedonia after the striker refused his handshake when substituted.
After starting the World Cup qualifying match with Spain, Pelle was substituted on 59 minutes, but will now miss the next game with Macedonia on Sunday.
Pelle’s apology read as follows:
” Oh yes! Unfortunately, I’ve done a stupid thing again 😰. It was unacceptable bit of behaviour, against the coach in the first place and also to my team-mates, who have always shown themselves to have important values within a great ITALY group in which we belong. “
” As with all serious errors, you have to suffer the consequences. It’s only right that I take responsibility for the incident. It’s only right to submit my heartfelt apologies to everyone.”
Ventura had initially appeared to play down the incident even before the former Southampton player had apologised.
“Pelle was angry, I think this was not so much because of the substitution as the way we had played up to that point,” he said after the game.
“It’s part of football, it’s something I’ve seen many times in my career. But when you wear the Italy shirt, you need to be careful.”
But he clearly didn’t able to leave it at that, and the decision was made to axe the 31-year-old player from the squad.
The FIGC released a statement to the press, in which they confirmed the decision, and added that Pelle would return to his parent club in China:
“The coach Gian Piero Ventura, in agreement with the FIGC, has decided to exclude the player Graziano Pellè from the squad for the match against FYR Macedonia this Sunday, October 9 in Skopje, for disrespectful behavior at the time of his substitution during the match yesterday with Spain.
“To be part of the Italy squad involves the sharing of values that are befitting of the national team, starting with showing respect towards the staff, teammates and fans. The player will return today to his parent club.”
On first hearing this story, we thought it seemed unnecessarily harsh. It seems quite a punishment for what could have been an accidental or inadvertent.
But then we saw the video. This was pretty outrageous behaviour – and Pelle’s statement admitted as much.
After all, how hard is it to do a handshake? Unless you play for Manchester United, that is.