Italy send Pelle home af­ter Spain tantrum

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MI­LAN:

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

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