Italy send Pelle home after Spain tantrum
Italy forward Graziano Pelle has been kicked out of the national squad over his angry reaction to being substituted against Spain when he refused a handshake from coach Giampiero Ventura.
The Italian football federation (FIGC) said in a statement that the 31-year-old had been excluded from the squad which will travel to Skopje to face Macedonia in their Group G World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
Pelle, who has already apologised for his tantrum, was taken off on the hour after an ineffective display in the World Cup qualifier which ended in a 1-1 draw on Thursday.
“The coach, in agreement with the FIGC, has decided to exclude Graziano Pelle... for disrespectful behaviour when he was substituted,” the FIGC said.
“To be part of the national team involves the sharing of values which are worthy of the national team, starting with respect towards the staff, team mates and fans.”
Ventura had initially appeared to play down the incident even before the former Southampton player, who is now based with Chinese club Shandong Luneng, 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.”
Pelle admitted on Instragram that he had “messed things up.”
“It was unacceptable behaviour, firstly against the coach and also, towards my team mates, who have always shown me to have important values in this fantastic Italy group we belong to. “Like any great mistake, I accept the consequences. And it is only right that I take responsibility. I must ask offer my apologies from my heart to everyone.”
Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was also prepared to forgive and forget, he said before Pelle was excluded.
“He’s a great guy and in the cold light of day, I’m sure he will realise he was wrong,” he said. “If he apologises for his behaviour, we will be happy to embrace him.
“It was wrong but these things happen in such tense matches.” —Reuters
NATAL: Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus flies in the air as he fight for the ball during a 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Bolivia, in Natal, Brazil, Thursday. — AP